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News & Events for the Smith College Community
Smith Arts September 18, 2015

Yao Wu Named New Curator of Asian Art

Yao Wu photographed in the museum galleries
Yao Wu is the SCMA's new curator of Asian art.

Yao Wu, a specialist in East Asia with a focus on modern and contemporary Chinese art, has been appointed as the inaugural Jane Chace Carroll Curator of Asian Art at the Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA). Her appointment is effective September 21.

Wu joins the museum staff as preparations are being made for the October 15 dedication of the new Carol T. Christ Asian Art Gallery, a state-of-the-art display space for Asian art named in honor of Smith’s 10th president.

Wu is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University. She graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, with a B.A. degree in English language and literature in 2004, and she received her master’s degree in art history from Williams College in 2007.

As curator of Asian art at SCMA, Wu will play a key role in stewarding the growth and use of the museum’s collection of Asian art, which includes some 1,700 objects from the Neolithic period to the present day.

Wu will develop in-house and traveling exhibitions in collaboration with her colleagues and will also contribute to research, publications, web projects, collection development and care, and the growth of a broad donor base for the new Christ gallery.

She will also conceptualize and initiate teaching exhibitions and museum-based courses in collaboration with Smith faculty and will mentor students and supervise student curatorial interns.

Of the museum’s commitment to displaying and collecting Asian art, Wu said, “I envision the program’s significance in the Five College consortium and in a region where interest in Asia is fast growing.”

“I anticipate many opportunities for shaping the collection and designing exhibitions and programs that would best serve the interests of faculty, students and the community beyond the campus,” she said.

Wu served as the inaugural Asian Art Curatorial Fellow and Curatorial Intern at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City from 2007 to 2009. During her time at Stanford, she served as the Asian art curatorial research assistant at the university’s Cantor Arts Center where she organized two shows featuring late imperial and early modern Chinese paintings and decorative arts.

Wu is fluent in Chinese and English and has completed numerous translations for the Chinese-English bilingual art journals Leap: The International Art Magazine of Contemporary China and Art Time.

Several fellowships and awards helped to shape her early career, including a pre-doctoral fellowship from Stanford to study at Peking University (2015) and a Mellon Fellowship for Curatorial Research in Asian Art, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford (2014).

The Carol T. Christ Asian Art Gallery is a major component of SCMA’s two-year, two-phase gallery redesign project. The gallery was named in honor of Carol T. Christ, who not only had a great love of art, but also made significant developments in Smith’s relationship with Asia.

For information about museum exhibition and programs, visit: