6 Things with Nalini Elias Director of Exhibitions

Nalini Elias is the Director of Exhibitions and Museum Experience at the GLBT Historical Society, located in San Francisco's iconic Castro District. She collaborates with community curators to create museum exhibitions and related programming. Before joining the society in 2018, Nalini worked for various cultural organizations including the Museum of Latin American Art, de Young Museum, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, and Fraenkel Gallery. Nalini holds an M.A. in Museum Studies and a B.A. in Art History/Arts Management from the University of San Francisco, and is passionate about the intersection of art, culture and identity. Learn more about Nalini and shop her curated art edit below.

1. What started it all for you?

I grew up in Guadalajara, a picturesque city in Jalisco, Mexico, where I was used to seeing artisanal goods, intricate textiles, fine arts and neoclassical architecture. Fields of color and sculptural details have always been important to me and I include them as much as I can in my creative work and intimate surroundings. I went to school to study art history and I immersed myself in museum work because I knew at a young age that I would be the happiest if I could chat with artists and visit galleries on a daily basis. Professionally I started my career in the arts by working in museum education and I slowly transitioned into exhibition development and design, which is what I'm currently doing at the GLBT Historical Society Museum. I continue to work with creatives for a living, which further enriches my personal life and aesthetic preferences.

2. What drives your creative spark?

Every museum exhibition I work on is different, so it's not too difficult to draw inspiration from the diversity of topics as well as from the curators, historians and multidisciplinary artists I get to work with. These past two years I've been more involved with designing exhibition identities, which involve selecting color palettes, fonts and images, and I find myself constantly paging through magazines and looking at my large archive of iPhone photos from museums visits, travels or screenshots for inspiration.

3. Most treasured home decor item?

I can't imagine not having a rotation of fresh, seasonal flowers at home! They give me so much joy and remind me that beauty is not only anywhere you look, but also something to be felt.

4. What’s the best advice you've ever received?

The best advice I've received regarding art, within the context of a museum or gallery, is that there is not a proper or specific way to enjoy it. Some people are often afraid to talk about art or intimidated by museums because, yes, some of it has an aura of exclusivity and foreign historical context. However, art is meant to be enjoyed and deciphered in our own unique ways.

5. It's 5 o'clock at home. What would you be pouring?

I love a lemony tequila margarita with Cointreau, or an Aperol spritz!

6. What are your favorite 6 accounts that you follow for inspiration?



From the bedroom to the kitchen or bathroom, the things we can choose to adorn a home are a statement to who we are as collectors. Such items can hold so much power when creating an ambiance that is intimate or meant to entertain others. Just like a museum gallery, your objects on display can be intentionally placed to tell a story, evoke an emotion or create an experience. You too can achieve a thoughtfully curated home, sans the "do not touch" signs!

Plantsketball - Floral Spalding Basketball Planter $100
The most sustainable planter you ever did see! Whether you’re a basketball fan or not, this piece will become the Greatest Of All Time in any room.
LAS FOTOS PROJECT - Religion by Mia Bella Chavez $75
Collect photography by the talented students of Las Fotos Project, a community-based nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that inspires teenage girls through photography, mentorship, and self-expression. LFP’s mission is to empower these girls from communities of color to channel their creativity for the benefit of themselves, their community, and future careers.
We are FriendsWithYou Book $55
The "We Are FriendsWithYou" monograph is the happiest book out there! Every page is a pop of color and you can't help but smile and get all fuzzy inside.
These intricate candles are hand made and sculpted usually by talented women from Oaxaca, Mexico. They are traditionally used for celebrations but clearly prove to be collectible objects. Pro tip: mix and match colors from the selection they have!
Cho Luminary $192
Ceramicist Eunbi Cho creates playful yet functional objects that evoke her Korean heritage, sense of freedom and poetic practice. Her pieces are so versatile that I always wonder if I can use them for something else!
Sculpd Pottery Kit $65
Why not freestyle it? Make it personal and bring out your inner artist with this do-it-yourself clay pot kit and create a one of a kind masterpiece!

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