On Friday, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) announced scholar Christina Yu Yu as the new Matsutaro Shoriki Chair of Asian Art.
MFA noted that Yu will be leaving her current post as the director of the University of Southern California Pacific Asia Museum (USC PAM), “one of few U.S. institutions dedicated to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands.” She will lead MFA’s curators in overseeing the MFA’s collection of hundreds of thousands of works from China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia and the Islamic world.
Matthew Teitelbaum, the current MFA director, said that Yu was highly accomplished and could help bridge the gap between the global perspective demanded of museums while strengthening existing communal ties.
“Christina’s breadth of experience, international outlook and track record of leadership align with our ambitions for presenting and engaging with one of the world’s greatest collections of Asian art,” he said. “She will be a leader for us, and I look forward to seeing her collaborate with the MFA’s acclaimed staff to create programs that bring our works of art to new audiences. Christina’s dynamic approach is inspiring, especially during a time when museums around the world are being challenged to think globally while also deepening ties within our existing communities.”
Yu said she was privileged to join the MFA team and she hoped to contribute to the museum’s future.
“Masterpieces from the MFA’s Asian collection have sparked interest in generations of visitors—including myself,” Yu said. “I look forward to continuing to bring art and people together in new and meaningful ways.”
Yu originally joined the USC PAM after arriving in August 2014 from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where she was a curator of Chinese and Korean art. There, Yu had co-curated the first major U.S. exhibition, Chinese Paintings from Japanese Collections (2014), that explored the history of Chinese paintings in Japan over the course of 600 years. She also held positions at the Chambers Fine Art gallery based in New York and Beijing and the Yokohama Museum of Art in Japan.
Elizabeth Garrett, the university’s provost, had then praised Yu as “the right leader to ensure that [the museum] reaches new heights as part of USC Arts” in a written announcement of her hiring.
After joining PAM, Yu led the museum’s efforts to bring more visitors and instituted staff reorganization while expanding local outreach and sparking interest among Pasadena community USC faculty and students.
The press release also noted Yu’s work and experience in leading the USC PAM’s first complete inventory following a merger with the University of South California. It specifically noted that Yu’s tenure included the development of a master plan for renovating the museum building from “from an early 20th-century private residence into a 21st-century public space.”
Born and raised in China, Yu went to Wellesley College and earned her master’s degree from Boston University. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, where her dissertation was on paintings from China’s Yuan dynasty. She is fluent in Chinese, Japanese and English.
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