Asia Society Names New Leader

Yasufumi Nakamori, senior curator of international art at London’s Tate Modern, will become director of New York’s Asia Society, the museum announced Monday.

The board post has been vacant since Michelle Yun Mapplethorpe resigned in June 2022 to pursue other duties. Nakamori will start in August.

The Asia Society is one of the nation’s leading institutions that exhibits and collects Asian heritage art, including Chinese and Korean ceramics, Indian bronzes, and Southeast Asian sculptures. Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller, it houses a growing contemporary collection of video, animation, photography, and new media art by Asian and Asian-American artists.

“I want to bring power and dynamism to the museum,” Nakamori said in a phone interview, adding that he is already formulating a strategic plan that includes new commissions from contemporary artists, efforts to attract the local community to the museum, and curatorial focus. added. In a show that explores the influence of Asia on other continents.

“It’s important to fill the void in the history of Asian art,” Nakamori said. “I want the Asia Society to be an interlocutor and an agitator.”

Mr. Nakamori started his career as a corporate lawyer in New York about 30 years ago, then got his doctorate and moved into the world of museums. He holds art history and curatorial positions at the Houston Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. During his tenure at Tate Modern, he curated works such as: exhibition The work of South African artist Zanele Muholi has toured six museums across Europe.

“We found Yasufumi Nakamori, the leader of the Asia Society Museum, who advocates the importance of Asian art and artists to the world’s visual culture,” said Emily Rafferty, director who helped lead the inquiry committee. said.

Last spring, the museum was embroiled in a censorship controversy after an image of the Prophet Muhammad was blurred in the online portion of a recent exhibition during Nakamori’s interview stage. Museum officials said it was a mistake. Nevertheless, Islamic art scholars criticized the decision as an ethical violation. Many Muslims object to depictions of Muhammad as blasphemous, and the topic of how Islamic art is presented in context has become a hot topic for institutions.

Christian Gruber, a professor of Islamic art at the University of Michigan who contributed to the exhibition and opposed the blurring of images, said the Asian Society had the opportunity to improve its treatment of Islamic art and hire curators with expertise in the field. said he came. matter.

“Like most museums, the Asia Society needs people who have a vision of how to move Asian art forward,” Gruber said. “Islamic content was not good for them.”

Nakamori said the museum was fumbling around with the materials. “I don’t think the image should have been blurry,” he said. “Things like this stemmed from a lack of internal consensus, probably because there was no clear and stable leadership.”

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