SAN FRANCISCO (June 11, 2012) — After an extensive search, the Asian Art Museum today announced the appointment of Dr. Laura Allen as the museum’s new curator of Japanese art, beginning June 11, 2012.
Serving as head of the museum’s Japanese art department, Dr. Allen will join associate curator of Japanese art Melissa Rinne in executing advanced curatorial work, organizing special exhibitions, and overseeing the care and academic interpretation of Japanese art objects belonging or lent to the museum.
“Laura Allen’s unique combination of teaching skills, scholarly publication, and curatorial experiences have provided her the kind of intellectual innovation needed to fulfill the museum’s vision to engage and inspire new and broader audiences,” said Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum. “She brings an intellectual acumen that complements her personal warmth and lively thinking. We are thrilled to welcome her aboard.”
Dr. Allen has worked for over twenty years in the field of Japanese art history. After receiving her B.A. in Art History and Asian Studies at Oberlin College, she completed an M.A. in Art History under Alexander Soper at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.
Following a year as a Japanese art curatorial intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she moved to the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied Chinese and Japanese art as well as classical Japanese literature under James Cahill, Maribeth Graybill, and Helen Craig McCullough. A Fulbright scholarship supported Dr. Allen’s doctoral research on medieval narrative painting at Gakushûin University, Tokyo. Her Ph.D. dissertation was a study of the thirteenth century picture scroll Illustrated Life of Saigyô (Saigyô monogatari emaki).
In 1992, after four years as assistant professor of Japanese art at U.C. Irvine, Dr. Allen embarked on a freelance career focused on research, teaching and writing in her field. Her broad-ranging interests have resulted in publications for scholarly and general audiences, on topics including early narrative painting, Tosa school paintings of The Tale of Genji, the printmaking tradition, and Western-style painting (yôga). She has taught the history of Japanese art to students at U.C. Berkeley, Stanford University and most recently has served as adjunct professor of Asian art at the University of San Francisco.
In 2006, she initiated a close affiliation with the Asian Art Museum with a yearlong term as Instructor of Record for the Arts of Asia lecture series.
Since 2009, Dr. Allen has worked closely with Ms. Rinne in the museum’s Japanese department as guest co-curator for recent and upcoming exhibitions, and as an advisor to the Society for Asian Art’s board of directors.
The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco’s premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection of more than 18,000 Asian Art treasures spanning 6000 years of history. Through rich art experiences, centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life, while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking. www.asianart.org