Monday, March 17, 2008

Asian Art Museum Appoints Jay Xu as Director

Source:- Newswire

SAN FRANCISCO, March 12 (AScribe Newswire) -- Dixon Doll, Chair of the Asian Art Commission and the Asian Art Museum Foundation, the dual governing boards of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, today announced the appointment of Jay Jie Xu as the museum's new Director. Mr. Xu (pronounced shu) will begin his position June 15, 2008. His appointment coincides with the fifth anniversary (March 20) of the museum's much heralded opening of its $170 million facility at Civic Center. He succeeds Emily J. Sano, who retired in January 2008 after fifteen years of service to the museum.

A dedicated scholar of Chinese antiquities and a curator committed to sharing his extensive knowledge of Asian art with a wide audience, Mr. Xu, 45, brings a variety of international museum experience to the Asian Art Museum. He has been the Pritzker Chairman, Department of Asian and Ancient Art at The Art Institute of Chicago since 2006, after serving as Pritzker Curator of Asian Art since 2003. While at The Art Institute, Mr. Xu worked with two of America's most respected art museum directors, James Wood and James Cuno. Prior to that, he served as Head of the Department of Asian Art, and Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art at the Seattle Art Museum, where he worked from 1996 to 2003. Before his appointment at the Seattle Art Museum, Mr. Xu was a fellow in the Department of Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1994-96), and an assistant curator at the Shanghai Museum (1988-90). Mr. Xu studied Chinese Literature at Shanghai University, and Art History in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University (M.A., 1993; Ph.D. candidacy).

As Director of the Asian Art Museum, Mr. Xu will be responsible for directing a staff of more than 140 museum professionals responsible for successfully fulfilling the museum's mission of leading a diverse global audience in discovering the unique material, aesthetic, and intellectual achievements of Asian art and culture. He will direct the museum's mandated responsibility of safely housing, protecting, and presenting its world-renowned collection of 17,000 artworks; oversee the development of special exhibitions and public programs that are relevant to the museum's audiences; and direct efforts to expand the museum's audiences and supporters.

His selection comes after an international search led by a seven-person search committee established by the Asian Art Museum Foundation with the consent of the Asian Art Commission.

"We are thrilled to have Jay serve as Director of the Asian Art Museum," said Dixon Doll, Chairman of the Asian Art Commission and Asian Art Museum Foundation. "Of all the exceptional candidates who expressed interest in leading the Asian Art Museum, Jay's academic and museum management experience aligns best with the museum's strategic plan. His enthusiasm, vision, and energetic leadership skills will serve us well as we strive to elevate the museum's prominence locally, nationally, and internationally, with a special emphasis on Asia."

"I am deeply honored to serve as the Director of the Asian Art Museum," said Mr. Xu. "I have a profound respect and appreciation for the museum's acclaimed collection, its exhibitions and public programs. I will strive to build upon the museum's strength in showcasing the best of Asian art and culture, and to bring this outstanding institution to another level of excellence." Mr. Xu added, "My wife, Jennifer Chen, and I are delighted to become a part of the extraordinarily rich cultural community for which the San Francisco Bay Area is known, and I look forward to working with the museum's boards, volunteers, staff, and supporters from all communities to ensure that we serve as an essential part of public cultural life for our audiences, both here and abroad."

During his tenure at The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. Xu led the expansion of the Department of Asian and Ancient Art, doubling the size of its staff. He spearheaded significant acquisitions in many areas of Asian art, such as ancient Chinese bronzes, Korean screens, Japanese ceramics, Indian and Southeast Asian sculptures, and developed a collecting strategy for tradition-inspired contemporary Asian art. He curated or supervised a number of remarkable exhibitions including both traditional and contemporary Asian art. Highlights included "Perpetual Glory: Medieval Islamic Ceramics from the Harvey B. Plotnick Collection" (March 31-October 28, 2007) and "Japanese Art from the Alsdorf Collection" (July 1-September 12, 2004).

Since 2005, Mr. Xu chaired The Art Institute's major expansion and renovation of its Asian art galleries. The first phase, which is expected to open in 2009, will be devoted to the arts of South & Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, and Islamic world. In conjunction with this project, Mr. Xu managed the selection and inaugural appointment of the Alsdorf Curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan and Islamic Art, the first such full-time curatorship in the history of The Art Institute.

Beyond his regular duties, Mr. Xu serves as a member of the selection committee for the Mellon Program of Chinese Museum Professionals (June 2003-present), a program funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation and jointly undertaken by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Freer-Sackler Galleries, Washington D.C., and The Art Institute of Chicago. The program is designed to train museum directors for China's rapidly developing museum field. Mr. Xu has served as managing director of the Mellon program since 2007.

While at the Seattle Art Museum, Mr. Xu significantly expanded its Asian art collection, re-installed permanent collection galleries, and curated a wide range of special exhibitions. A major focus of Mr. Xu's work was the organization of a landmark touring exhibition of the art of ancient Sichuan, China, including striking sculptures from the famous discovery at Sanxingdui. Entitled "Treasures from a Lost Civilization: Ancient Chinese Art from Sichuan," the exhibition was presented at important venues, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Seattle Art Museum, from 2001 through 2002. Highly acclaimed by both scholars and the public, the exhibition and its accompanying publication are the most comprehensive and in-depth study of ancient cultures of Sichuan to date, and represent a fresh, regional approach to the archaeology of ancient China. The exhibition catalogue, "Ancient Sichuan: Treasures from a Lost Civilization" (Seattle Art Museum and Princeton University Press, 2001), of which Mr. Xu was a principal author, received one of the two honorable mentions in the 2001 George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award of the Libraries Society of North America.

Mr. Xu is a widely published scholar, particularly on ancient Chinese bronzes and archaeology - his area of expertise. His prolific writings or translations cover diverse areas, including ancient Chinese jades, Chinese ceramics, Chinese calligraphy, and museum practice. The book "Art of the Houma Foundry" (Princeton University Press, 1996), to which he contributed, was awarded the prestigious Shimada Prize of 1997 for the Outstanding Publication on the History of Eastern Asian art. His publications have appeared in books and in such journals as Orientations, Natural History, Artibus Asiae, and Journal of East Asian Archaeology. He is much in demand as a speaker on topics related to Chinese art or museum practice, circumnavigating the globe from numerous cities across the United States to mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea.

Mr. Xu is the recipient of a number of awards in addition to the two book prizes, among them: the Seattle Art Museum Patterson Sims Fellowship for exceptional curatorial achievements (2001); the Princeton University Department of Art and Archaeology Honorary Marc Haas '29 Memorial Fellowship (1993); and the Shanghai Museum Outstanding Merit Award (1989). Among the fellowships he has been awarded are a National Gallery of Art Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts Ittleson Fellowship (1996); a Smithsonian Institution Fellowship (1996); and a Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellowship at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1994).

ABOUT THE ASIAN ART MUSEUM:

The Asian Art Museum is a public institution whose mission is to lead a diverse global audience in discovering the unique material, aesthetic, and intellectual achievements of Asian art and culture. Holding more than 17,000 Asian art treasures spanning 6,000 years of history, the Museum is one of the largest museums in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian art. Once located in Golden Gate Park, the Museum now resides at its new, expanded facility at Civic Center Plaza. An architectural gem featuring a dynamic blend of beaux arts and modern design elements, the Museum's new home is the result of a dramatic transformation of San Francisco's former main library building by renowned architect Gae Aulenti (designer of Paris's Musee d'Orsay) into a showcase for the Museum's acclaimed collection and exhibitions.
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