The Syracuse University Art Museum is very pleased to announce the appointment of Melissa Yuen, Ph.D., as the new curator of the museum. Yuen, curator and art historian, comes to Syracuse from the Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and will join museum staff on December 1.

“Dr. Yuen shares our passion for the mission of an academic museum to act as a university-wide connector that supports curriculum engagement, research and experimental learning,” said Vanja Malloy , director and chief curator of the museum. “Through her work in other university museums, notably the Sheldon Museum of Art and the Cantor Arts Center, she applied her academic rigor to bring new ideas to the art collection who forge interdisciplinary conversations on important topics, such as housing inequalities. I am delighted to welcome her to the museum staff and look forward to working with her to shape the museum’s exhibition program .

Melissa Yuen

As curator of the Syracuse University Art Museum, Yuen will be responsible for conducting academic research, generating exhibits, and facilitating access and awareness to the museum’s permanent collection of over 45,000 objects. The collection reviews the international history of printmaking and has extensive collections of photographs and social cartoons, as well as strong collections from the 18th-, 19th and 20th century American and European painting and sculpture. Yuen’s appointment allows the museum to expand many of its curatorial and educational programs, including the inaugural Art Wall project which commissions emerging contemporary artists to create site-specific installations each academic year.

Yuen’s most recent role is as Associate Curator of Exhibitions at the Sheldon Museum of Art, where she is part of the museum’s management team. At Sheldon, she is responsible for generating all exhibition content for the museum’s 13 galleries, which are relocated twice per academic year. In the spring of 2021, she partnered with several Lincoln nonprofits and University of Nebraska-Lincoln units to fight eviction and housing affordability through organizing the exhibition, “Barriers and Disparities: Housing in America,Which explored selected moments in the history of inequitable access to housing.

Before taking up her post at Sheldon, she curated European and American art until 1900 at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. In 2017 at Cantor, Yuen co-organized the exhibition “Rodin: Le choc du corps moderne” with Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell, Acting Co-Director, Curator McMurtry and Director of the Curatorial Fellowship Program, to celebrate the centenary of the death of Rodin. With nearly 100 works, the installation shed light on how Rodin modernized figurative sculpture by refining the expressive capacity of the human form.

Yuen holds a doctorate. in Art History from Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, with a specialization in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art. Her research was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Fondazione Lemmermann (Rome), and culminated in her 2017 thesis, “The Young Mattia Preti in Rome: Style, Baroque Painting, and the Art Market, c. 1630-1653.

In addition to Yuen’s training as a curator, her classroom and classroom teaching experiences at university museums such as Sheldon and Cantor prepared her to research and display the artefacts in the Art Museum of the ‘Syracuse University to members of the university and the civic community. His experience in training docents and students on new exhibition seasons, presenting lectures to faculty and students, and serving as a liaison for Sheldon’s curriculum engagement with the University of Nebraska community. Strongly aligns with the Syracuse University Art Museum’s initiative to position and communicate the museum as a center for research and education.

“I am excited about the role of curator at the Syracuse University Museum of Art as it will give me the opportunity to engage with a global art collection and develop exhibits that can foster interdisciplinary conversations on the campus of the university, ”says Yuen. “I am energized by the museum’s mission [to serve] as a “museum-laboratory” of the university and [its] commitment to diversity and inclusion.


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