WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 4, 2015) — The Steven and Dorothea Green Critics’ Lecture Series launched its 34th season at The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU with guest-lecturer Melissa Chiu’s presentation of “Making A Museum in the 21st Century”on March 4, to a packed room of more than 120 cultural luminaries, leadership and staff of FIU, and students.
Dr. Chiu is the new director of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.
“The mission and purpose of museums have changed enormously over the past fifty years,” said Dr. Chiu. “The most pressing questions for museums today involve ideas of transition and transformation. The evolution from an archival approach to an interactive one.”
Since 1981, the Green Critics’ Lecture Series has presented internationally renowned artists, museum directors, scholars, critics and cultural luminaries including Christo, Susan Sontag, Frank Stella, Marina Abramovic and George Segal.
Attendees at the lecture and reception included: American cultural anthropologist Richard Kurin (the Smithsonian’s under-secretary for history, art and culture); Yann Weymouth (architect & designer of the Salvador Dali Museum and chief of design for I.M. Pei’s Grand Louvre project and National Gallery of Art East Wing project), American inventor & TV personalityKen Paik Hakuta; philanthropists Patricia & Phillip Frost; FIU’s President Mark B. Rosenberg; Richard Krasno (executive director of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust & member of the Council on Foreign Relations); and community leader Jose Valdes-Fauli (Florida International University Foundation Board of Directors).
“There is great potential for museums to become crucial to creativity and innovation, highly regarded qualities in the 21st century,” added Chiu. “As they negotiate the shifting environment of a new world, how can museums become key to the social fabric of their cities and regions, and to the people who call them home?”
Dr. Chiu completed her PhD at the University of Western Sydney, focusing on Chinese contemporary art in the diaspora. At the Hirshhorn she oversees a staff of 50 and a collection of nearly 12,000 objects.
She previously served as the director of the Asia Society Museum since 2004. Before that she was the curator for contemporary Asian and Asian American art at the Asia Society, since 2001.
“We are delighted that Melissa Chiu will was our honored speaker for the Steven and Dorothea Green Critics’ Lecture Series,” said the Frost Art Museum’s Director, Dr. Jordana Pomeroy.
“The series has attracted luminaries in the art world ranging from Phillipe de Montebello to Pierre Rosenberg, directors emeriti of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre, respectively. As the new Director of the Hirshhorn, Dr. Chiu provided insight into the state of art museums in the 21st century,” said Dr. Jordana Pomeroy.
Chiu’s focus at Asia Society included expanding the presentation of contemporary art while building a new collection of photography and video, including major acquisitions by Nam June Paik, Yoko Ono, Mariko Mori and Yang Fudong. An effective and creative fundraiser, Chiu secured about 80 percent of the Asia Society Museum’s budget through gifts from individuals and foundations, and new fundraising initiatives.
During her tenure at Asia Society, Dr. Chiu commissioned groundbreaking international loan exhibitions, including first-time presentations of Iran’s pre-revolutionary period and the first exhibition to focus on the art of China’s Cultural Revolution.
She led the opening exhibitions and programs for two new Asia Society buildings in Hong Kong and Houston that opened in 2012. Most recently, she created a series of cultural dialogues between museum leaders in China, India and the United States. This included the U.S.-China Museum Directors Forum in Beijing, which resulted in her co-editing the report “Toward a New Phase of U.S.-China Museum Collaborations.”
Before joining the Asia Society, Chiu was the founding director of the Asia-Australia Arts Centre in Sydney from 1996 until 2001.
Chiu has been an executive committee and board member of the Association of Art Museum Directors, a board member of The American Alliance of Museums, and has been part of numerous committees including the U.S. Praemium Imperiale, Academic Committee for the Shanghai Biennale, and Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship for the Rockefeller Foundation.
Her latest book, Making a Museum in the 21st Century includes transcriptions of discussions and speeches by museum professionals, artists and scholars at the inaugural Asia Society Arts and Museum Summit held in Hong Kong in 2013.
Chiu has authored and edited several books and catalogs on contemporary art, including Contemporary Art in Asia: A Critical Reader. She has lectured at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the Museum of Modern Art and other universities and museums.
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University opened its current 46,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building in November 2008. Admission to the Museum is always free. The Frost is an American Alliance of Museums accredited museum and Smithsonian Affiliate, and is located at 10975 SW 17th Street, across from the Blue Garage and adjacent to the Wertheim Performing Arts Center on the Modesto A. Maidique Campus. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday noon-5 p.m. Closed on Mondays and most legal holidays. For more information, please visit thefrost.fiu.edu or call 305-348-2890. Follow the museum at twitter.com/frostartmuseum and facebook.com/frostartmuseum.