Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art
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Jan Stuart rejoined the Freer and Sackler Galleries as the Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art in 2014. In her previous tenure here (1988–2006), Stuart was instrumental in bringing greater attention to the fields of Buddhist sculpture, Chinese portraits and court paintings, and ceramic and decorative arts of China through her research, publications, and thought-provoking exhibitions. She organized and contributed to several exhibitions and catalogues, including Challenging the Past: Chang Dai-chien (with Shen Fu), Joined Colors: Decoration and Meaning in Chinese Porcelain (with Louise Cort), Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits (with Evelyn Rawski), and The Return of the Buddha: Sculptures from Qingzhou.
From 2006 to 2014, Stuart was Keeper of Asia at the British Museum in London. She led the Department of Asia, which encompassed East, South, Southeast, and parts of Central Asia as well as Siberia. Stuart supervised a staff of approximately twenty-five curators, technicians, administrators, and research specialists, and she oversaw a collection of more than 125,000 objects from prehistoric to contemporary times. In the last several years, she led the team to create two new galleries and update a third, among them, the Sir Joseph Hotung Centre for Ceramic Studies, which houses the celebrated Sir Percival David Collection of Chinese art, and the painting gallery dedicated to displaying the Chinese handscroll Admonitions of the Instructress to Court Ladies. (She published a small book to introduce this masterpiece to the public.) She also supervised and contributed to a number of Asia-themed exhibitions, such as The First Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army and Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art, and she curated Xu Bing: Background Story. Most recently Stuart contributed to Ming: Fifty Years that Changed China.
Stuart has degrees in Chinese art, archaeology, and East Asian studies from Princeton and Yale universities, and she is fluent in Mandarin. She has been a consultant, partner, jury member, and producer on a wide range of international educational and curatorial initiatives, including art fairs, films, and conservation projects.