Melissa Chiu

The Indefatigable

Australian art expat Melissa Chiu conquered New York with a successful stint at the Asia Society. Since 2014 she’s been based in Washington, as Director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

feature by Alison Kubler

You have been in the United States for 17 years. And now you are the Director of the Hirshhorn! Congratulations; I think this is your zeitgeist moment. There’s this world we all work in, the museum and art world, where we know one another as colleagues, but when you reach that level of popular awareness in a magazine such as Vanity Fair, it’s like a measure of your success in a ‘real world’ context. The article acknowledged your vision for inclusivity in museums: how do you see it’s possible?
There are a few ways of looking at inclusivity. The most obvious thing we can do from a museum perspective is look at the kinds of exhibitions that we do, the programs that we put on, and then the collection as one part of a more programmatic focus. And then the other piece is the architecture and experience of visitors. So we’ve done a lot of both things, whether it was the exhibition of Shirin Neshat (Shirin Neshat: Facing History, 2015), that I did within the first year, or Yayoi Kusama (Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, 2017)…

Which was a huge success, wasn’t it?
Yes it was a groundbreaking kind of moment for this museum, because it
really was not just even about breaking an attendance record (which we did!), or launching a national tour (it was a six-venue national tour); it really introduced to many first-time visitors to Hirschhorn the idea of ‘coming to a museum’. We spent... Subscribe to read this article in full

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