Asia Society’s Melissa Chiu Will Head Hirshhorn Museum


The Asia Society’s Melissa Chiu has been appointed director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, in Washington, D.C., according to a statement from the museum. She will take up her new post Sept. 29.

Chiu is currently the director of New York’s Asia Society Museum and the institution’s senior vice president for global arts and cultural programs. She was appointed director in 2004, after serving as the museum’s curator of contemporary Asian and Asian-American art since 2001.

The Hirshhorn has been in a state of upheaval in recent years. Its previous director, Richard Koshalek, announced his resignation in May 2013 when his plans for an addition to the museum, the Seasonal Inflatable Structure, aka the Bubble, failed to gain support from the Hirshhorn’s board.

Several board members also defected after the board split over the Bubble, the Washington Post reported. Chairman of the board Constance R. Caplan resigned in July, complaining of “shocking breaches of confidentiality, inappropriate interruptions during Board meetings, and other negative behavior” at the museum in a letter published by the Post.

Chiu has published extensively. Her recent titles include Asian Art Now (Random House and Thames & Hudson, 2010) and Contemporary Art in Asia: A Critical Reader (MIT Press, 2010), both co-authored with her husband, Benjamin Genocchio.

The Hirshhorn was established in 1966 based on a gift by Joseph H. Hirshhorn, a Latvian immigrant and financier, of nearly 6,000 works of art. The museum opened in 1974 in a building designed by Gordon Bunshaft. The Hirshhorn is part of the Smithsonian Institution, which includes a score of museums in the D.C metro area and New York.