Curator, Museum Director, Writer
Melissa Chiu completed a Master of Art Administration, now Master of Curating and Cultural Leadership.
Melissa Chiu is one of Australia’s most successful international curators. She began her career after completing her postgraduate studies in Australia working with the collection of Western Sydney University and helping to establish Gallery 4A, a dedicated exhibition space devoted to promoting cultural dialogue about issues important in the Asia Pacific region. The Gallery is now called the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.
In 2004, Chiu was appointed the director of the Asia Society Museum in New York City, an institution wherein she launched a contemporary art collection with a gift of $1.5 million from a single benefactor. In this position she oversaw a staff of more than 100 people and managed a $29 million budget. In her time there, the museum opened 10 new exhibitions per year, including exhibitions by artists Cai Guo-Qiang, Ai Weiwei, Yoshitomo Nara, and Sarah Sze. Chiu also secured the ground-breaking international loan exhibitions Iran Modern, featuring art from Iran’s pre-revolutionary period, and Art and China’s Revolution, the first exhibition held at the museum dedicated to art of the Cultural Revolution in China.
Chiu is now the director of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, including international modern and contemporary art, based in Washington DC. In the Hirshhorn’s 40-year history it has only had five other directors, all of whom were American. Chiu is the first international appointment for the museum.
After her appointment, Peggy Burnet, the chair of the Hirshhorn’s board of trustees, said, “We are thrilled to have one of the museum world’s rising stars coming on board to help begin a new chapter of the Hirshhorn. Melissa is a proven leader with a global perspective. As we head into our 40th anniversary and look to the future, we believe Melissa has the vision and experience to ensure that the Hirshhorn remains an integral part of the Smithsonian experience…”
In 2014, Melissa received a prestigious Alumni Award from UNSW.