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The Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellowship in Asian Art

Established by Asia Foundation President Emeritus Ambassador Haydn Williams, the Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellows in Asian Art Program honors his late wife, whose interest in Asian art was stimulated by their travels together on Asia Foundation visits to the region. Mrs. Williams was also a founding docent at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the cooperating partner in implementing the fellowship program.

The program's intent is to contribute to the professional enhancement of Asian art curators through an exchange of specialists in the U.S. with specialists in Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei. The arrangement calls for a curatorial art expert from one of these cities to be affiliated with the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (AAM/SF) for a period of time. A specialist from AAM/SF will visit one of the designated Asian museums in turn.

Mr. Li Ze Bin, Deputy Director, Institute of Archaeology, Nanjing Museum, China

November 2015
Mr. Li, a specialist on the archaeology of Han and Tang Dynasties, examined the Asian Art Museum's famed collection of ancient Chinese Art, and visited Bay Area museums during his three-week fellowship. As head of an archaeology team which excavated the Dayunshan royal mausoleum of the Western Han dynasty (206BCE – 9 CE) in Jiangsu province, he gave a presentation at the Asia Foundation on the findings illustrated with slides, some for the first time in the U.S. The Dayunshan Mausoleum excavated in 2012 is considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries in China in recent years.

Ms. Nu Mra Zan, Consultant, Ministry of Culture, Myanmar and Ms. Mie Mie Thet N'we, Deputy Director, Yangon National Museum

Ms. Zan and Ms. N'we observed various aspects of museum management, curatorship, and outreach during their professional affiliation at the Asian Art Museum. This core activity was supplemented with site visits to several smaller ethnic and community museums in the Bay Area. They were especially impressed with interactive methods that are used to engage audiences, many of which do not require high technology or expensive resources. With the support of the Center for Burmese Studies, Northern Illinois University, the Foundation made arrangements for the Fellows to participate in the Symposium on Ethnography in Myanmar.

The Second Asian Art Forum for Museum Directors: "Classical to Contemporary/Local to Global"

July, 2014
This fellowship, along with Brayton Wilbur, Jr. Memorial Fellowships in Asian Art, supported the participation of eight museum directors from Asia and the U.S. in the second biennial forum.  Organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the discussions focused on ways of making museums more relevant to the dynamic world of today, including approaches to combining traditional and contemporary art in meaningful ways. The long-range goal of the forum is to encourage collaboration among museums to foster greater global awareness of Asian art and culture, its rich diversity and modes of presentation.

Mr. Timothy Rub, Director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Spring 2013
Mr. Rub met with representatives of major museums in China, Japan and Korea on his fellowship to discuss cooperation and exchanges with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and plans for the second Director's Forum at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Referring to the museum's significant collection of Asian art, he said he looked forward to potential collaborations and exchanges with Asian museums.

Mr. Tsuda Tetsuei and Dr. Sarai Mai, The National Institute of Cultural Properties, Tokyo

Mr. Tsuda, Head of the Art Research Materials and Dr. Sarai, Senior Researcher, conducted research on two eighth-century hollow lacquer sculptures, Bonten and Taishakuten in the Asian Art Museum's collection during their two-week fellowship. The researchers discovered that many of the structural repairs over time on the sculptures had utilized original materials. This finding enhances the two sculptures' intrinsic value.

Fellows in the First Asian Art Forum for Museum Directors

In November, 2011, representatives of important museums of Asian art from Asia and the U.S. met in San Francisco for a pioneering Directors Forum organized by The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. The Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellows in Asian Art Program supported the participation of East Asian museum directors in the Forum, where they shared strategies for fostering greater global awareness of Asian art and cultures while exploring models for collaboration and partnerships among their institutions.

Dr. Jay Xu, Director of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

Prior to joining AAM in 2008, Dr. Xu was Pritzker Chairman of the Department of Asian and Ancient Art at The Art Institute of Chicago. He is a dedicated scholar of Chinese antiquities and a curator committed to sharing his extensive knowledge of Asian art with a wide audience. The award of the Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellowship in 2009-10 supported Dr. Xu's travels in Asia to meet with directors of major museums, explore interest in the proposed Directors Forum, and develop appropriate topics for presentation and discussion at the forum.

Ms. Li He, Curator of Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

A leading specialist in Chinese ceramics, Ms. Li He's fellowship enabled her to attend a conference on early white-glazed porcelain in Henan, China, organized jointly by the Henan Provincial Museum and the Palace Museum in Beijing; followed by a symposium in Taipei, Taiwan on the collections of the Palace Museums in Taipei and Beijing. She concluded the trip with a visit to the latter museum, where she met with curators to discuss a proposed ground-breaking joint exhibition of art from the two Palace Museums to be shown at the Asian Art Museum.

Dr. Lee Nae-ok, Head of the Asian Art Dept, the National Museum of Korea, and Director of the Daegu National Museum

As the second Fellow from Asia, Dr. Lee collaborated with Dr. Cheeyun Kwon, the Asian Art Museum's Curator of Korean Art in reviewing the Korean collection. His three-week affiliation aided preparations for a planned rotation of the exhibition in the galleries. According to Dr. Kwon, "Dr. Lee's expertise (was) invaluable in showcasing the Asian's collection of Korean art, one the finest in the U.S."

Mr. Yasuhiro Nishioka, Deputy Director Emeritus of the Tokyo National Museum

Mr. Yasuhiro Nishioka, an internationally renowned specialist in Chinese lacquers, was the first Margaret F. Williams Fellow from Asia. Mr. Nishioka conducted research on the Asian Art Museum's extensive collection of Chinese lacquer ware, one of three major collections in the U.S.. The Museum produced a catalogue based on Mr. Nishioka's research.

Dr. Yoko Woodson

The first recipient of the fellowship, Dr. Yoko Woodson, the Asian Art Museum's Curator of Japanese Art, traveled to Japan for several weeks. During her visit, she worked with curators at Eisei Bunko Museum of the Hosokawa Family, examining the collection and helping to identify objects for display in the Asian Art Museum's 2009 exhibit, Lords of the Samurai. Dr. Woodson also examined collections in Kumamoto Castle, home of the Hosokawa Family for more than 300 hundred years, and other sites in Kyushu relevant to the Hosokawa heritage.

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