New Director Is Named for the Freer and Sackler Galleries

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Chase F. Robinson has been named director of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution’s museums of Asian art in Washington. He is currently the president of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a professor of Middle Eastern history and culture.

The Smithsonian announced the appointment on Tuesday. Mr. Robinson succeeds Julian Raby, who retired in 2017.

“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,” David Skorton, the Smithsonian secretary, said in a statement.

When asked about his move from academia to the museum world, Mr. Robinson acknowledged that there may be a learning curve, but, he said, “The walls that separate colleges and universities from museums and libraries and other cultural institutions, I think they’re perforating or even dissolving, particularly as new technologies emerge.”

Both types of organizations are focused on reaching larger, more diverse populations and expanding their educational mission, he added.

Mr. Robinson said he “feels a particular imperative in this age of increased cultural misunderstanding” to broaden and deepen the Freer-Sackler’s efforts to share Asian and Middle Eastern art and educate people about it.

Before becoming president of the Graduate Center, Mr. Robinson served as provost and senior vice president. His books include “Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives: The First Thousand Years” and “Empire and Elites after the Muslim Conquest: The Transformation of Northern Mesopotamia.”

He will begin his new position on Dec. 10.

Original Article

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