Hirshhorn names N.Y. Asia Society Museum’s Melissa Chiu as new director

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has named Melissa Chiu, veteran director and senior vice president for Global Arts and Cultural Programs for the Asia Society Museum in New York, as its new director.

The Australian-born Chiu, 42, who will assume the position in September, succeeds former director Richard Koshalek, whose tenure was marked by controversy over funding for his signature Seasonal Inflatable Structure project. He announced his resignation a year ago.

After years of dissension at the Hirshhorn that included the loss of several board members, the announcement of Chiu’s hiring marks the first part of a reset. That includes replacing chief curator Kerry Brougher, who served as interim director until last month.

“The Hirshhorn  has this incredible long, storied history, and has an amazing collection and [has] done some really groundbreaking exhibitions,” Chiu said.

“Melissa is an experienced, accomplished and highly respected museum leader, with 20 years of experience in curating exhibitions and managing arts organizations,”  Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough said in a statement. “She will bring the right kind of leadership to allow the Hirshhorn to take its place among the best contemporary art museums in the world.”

“I am honored to have been chosen to lead this modern and contemporary art museum in our nation’s capital,” Chiu said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the Hirshhorn staff as we move forward in this 40th anniversary year.”

Chiu has served as the director of the Asia Society Museum since 2004,  and was curator for Asian and Asian American art prior to that, launching a contemporary art collection after a $1.5 million gift from a single benefactor.

Chiu’s focus at the Asia Society Museum.has been expanding the presentation of contemporary art while also building a photography and video collection and acquiring works by Nam June Paik, Yoko Ono, Mariko Mori and Yang Fudong.

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