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Museum of Art press release   Date: 12/7/09 Bookmark and Share

Museum of Art Hosts Talk by Eminent Museum Director

The Smith College Museum of Art will host “The Art Museum in the 21st Century: Bold Moves, Meaningful Surprises,” a lecture by Mimi Gardner Gates, director emerita of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall.

View a poster of the event.

Mimi Gardner Gates.

The event is free and open to all.

Gates’ talk, which will focus on her career as well as her perspective on the museum field in general, is the culminating fall lecture of IDP 118: The History and Critical Issue of Museums, the first course in Smith’s new Museums Concentration.

The lecture was made possible by the Carlyn Steiner ‘67 and George Steiner Fund, in honor of Joan Koch Smith.

Gates, who became director of SAM in May 1994, is a scholar of Asian art with a strong interest in Chinese painting, ceramics, and the history of ornament. She formerly served as director of the Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG) from 1987-1994, after having joined YUAG in 1975 as Curator of Asian Art. Under her direction, YUAG created a conservation studio, added a department of European and Contemporary art, expanded its collections, and embarked on an ambitious program of exhibitions, many of which were organized by faculty and students. While at Yale, Gates also taught courses in Chinese art history and museum studies.

During her tenure at SAM, Gates led the museum forward, organizing major exhibitions, publishing scholarly publications, and embarking on significant capital projects, including the establishment of a conservation studio, renovations to the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park, creation of the Olympic Sculpture Park and an expansion of the downtown museum that will eventually triple its size.

Gates has served as president and trustee of the Association of Art Museum Directors, chaired the Federal Indemnity panel (1999–2002) at The National Endowment for the Arts, and sits on the Advisory Board of the Getty Leadership Institute and the Governing Board of the Yale University Art Gallery. In addition, she serves as a Board member for the Northwest African American Museum, the Greater Seattle YWCA, Downtown Seattle Association and Copper Canyon Press. Gates is an affiliate faculty member at the University of Washington.

View current and upcoming exhibitions and programs at the Museum of Art.

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