August 23, 2018

Chase F. Robinson to Lead Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Educator Chase F. Robinson, who currently serves as the president of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, has been named director of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Together, the two museums comprise the Smithsonian’s national Asian art museums, which are home to more than 41,000 works.

“Chase is an outstanding scholar with impeccable credentials and a notable educational leader who recognizes the importance of public institutions in advancing understanding as a widespread civic good,” said Smithsonian secretary David Skorton. “I am confident he will continue the Freer|Sackler tradition of excellence while using the museums’ world-class collections to provide a broader, finer, and keener understanding of Asian art and culture and its connections to our own lives today.”

Since joining the Graduate Center in 2008, Robinson, a scholar of Middle Eastern history and culture, has served in a number of leadership roles, including provost and senior vice president. Previously, Robinson was a member of the faculty of oriental studies at the University of Oxford and the chair of its faculty board. He is also the author of various articles and nine books, including The Works of Ibn Wadih al-Ya’qubi: An English Translation (Brill, 2017) and Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives: The First 1,000 Years (University of California Press, 2016), among others. He is the general editor of Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization and a member of the editorial board of the British academic journal Past & Present.

“In our increasingly globalized and interdependent world, it is imperative that Americans understand the societies of Asia and the Middle East,” Robinson said in a statement. “There is no better way to acquire such understanding than through their arts and culture. The collections in the Freer and Sackler galleries, embedded as they are within the encyclopedic resources of the Smithsonian Institution, are extraordinary in their own right and powerful tools for fostering cultural understanding.”

Robinson succeeds Julian Raby, who retired in December 2017, and Richard Kurin, who served as acting director of the museums. Robinson will take up the post in December.

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