SEATTLE.- Dr. Yukiko Shirahara, the Seattle Art Museums (SAM) John A. McCone Foundation Curator of Asian Art, has accepted the prestigious position of Chief Curator at the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Shirahara assumes her new position on October 1, 2008.
This is a marvelous promotion for Yukiko Shirahara, said SAM director Mimi Gates. No one deserves it more. A scholar-curator who maintains high standards, Yukiko is totally dedicated to advancing knowledge about Japanese and Korean art. She will be sorely missed.
Shirahara, a specialist in Buddhist and Shinto painting, joined the SAM curatorial staff in January 2002. Most recently she organized the groundbreaking exhibition Japan Envisions the West: 16th -19th Century Japanese Art from Kobe City Museum, which was on view at SAM Downtown from October 11, 2007 through January 6, 2008. She served as curator for many other outstanding exhibitions such as: Five Masterpieces of Asian Art: The Story of their Conservation (2007), Elegant Earth: Photographs by Johsel Namkung (2006); Mountain Dreams: Contemporary Ceramics by Yoon Kwang-cho (2004); Beyond the Paper Plane: Japanese Prints from the 1950s to 1970s (2004); Discovering Buddhist Art: Seeking the Sublime (2003); and Rabbit, Cat and Horse: Endearing Creatures in Japanese Art (2002).
SAMs Asian Art collection, long a cornerstone of the museum, was greatly expanded during Shiraharas tenure. Among her most notable acquisitions include a Japanese modern woodblock print Mount Rainier by Yoshida Hiroshi, an early Edo period hanging scroll Portrait of Zen Monk, a late Edo period Japanese Noh theatrical robe, Korean contemporary ceramics by Yoon Kwang-cho, Moon Jar by Park Young-sook and 21 prints by Seattle-based Korean photographer Johsel Namkung. She also acquired for SAM more than 800 reference books, exhibition catalogues and journals on Asian Art from the late Japanese scholar Taka Yanagisawa for SAAMs McCaw Foundation Library (2006).
Although we are saddened that Yukiko will be leaving SAM, this is a wonderful opportunity for her, said Chiyo Ishikawa, SAMs Susan Brotman Deputy Director of Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture. In addition to her excellent scholarship and beautifully organized exhibitions and installations, she has worked tirelessly to foster close relationships within the Asian communities, and she will be missed by a much wider circle of admirers than just her museum family.
During her tenure, Shirahara has also organized many Asian art symposiums at the Seattle Art Museum including the annual Golden Week Lectures on Japanese Art. She has also been a driving force for the conservation of Asian treasures, including the late 17th century Buddhist Korean treasure, Preaching Buddha.
From 1991 to 2000, while pursuing her doctorate, Shirahara worked as a part-time curatorial assistant and librarian for the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts in Tokyo, where she participated in the planning and presentation of some 30 exhibitions, including Sacred Buddhist Images: The Essence of the Japanese Heian Period Buddhist Paintings (1996). From 2000 to 2001 she lived in London as a Handa Research
Fellow at the Sainsbury Institute for Japanese Arts and Cultures. In 2001 Shirahara received her Ph.D. in Art History from the Kei University, Tokyo.