This year marks the 20th anniversary of our museum’s home in Civic Center and the 15th anniversary of my tenure as the Barbara Bass Baker Director of the Asian Art Museum—Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture. At this landmark moment, the museum board and I are beginning a methodical process of succession planning which will culminate in 2025. As I prepare for the next chapter in my life, I want to take a moment to reflect on the museum’s accomplishments and the exciting exhibitions that lie ahead.
Together, we have navigated unprecedented challenges, from the 2008 recession to an ongoing pandemic. Meanwhile, we have expanded our collections, our audience, and our impact while transforming the museum into a global destination for Asian and Asian American art. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have played a part in helping to reshape the narrative of Asian history and culture outside Asia.
Today, we are stronger than ever, with a beautiful, modern museum campus, a flourishing endowment, and a community of art enthusiasts excited about our innovative, inspiring museum experience — one that showcases exceptional historic art while also weaving in compelling contemporary voices from artists of Asian descent the world over.
It has been my honor to help tell this broader, richer, and more inclusive story — not only of Asia, but also of the diverse America we live in — to ensure the Asian Art Museum truly is for all. I am proud of the strides we have made in reimagining what a museum of Asian art in America can offer: where stories like those of underrecognized San Francisco natives Carlos Villa and Bernice Bing can take their place alongside critically acclaimed artists from across the globe like Takashi Murakami, who is coming this fall! We have thrilled audiences with the incredible diversity of Asian cultures and art forms in so many unforgettable exhibitions: from Bali to Yoga; from Philippine Art to Couture Korea; from blockbusters like China’s Terracotta Warriors and teamLab: Continuity to our current hit, Beyond Bollywood: 2000 Years of Dance in Art — it has truly been an experience like nothing else.
I want to express my deepest gratitude to the museum’s volunteers, staff, board, and members of the public like you for your dedication to, passion for, and support of all we do. Your commitment to our mission and vision have been a constant source of inspiration for me, and I am confident that the museum will continue to thrive and grow under the next generation of leadership. I am excited to work closely with the museum’s dual governing boards, the Asian Art Commission and the Asian Art Museum Foundation, as we plan for what comes next, including an international search for the next museum director.
Looking toward the future, I am optimistic about what lies ahead for the Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture. Thank you for being part of this incredible journey with me.
With warmest regards,
Jay Xu, Ph.D.
The Barbara Bass Bakar Director and CEO