The Birmingham Museum of Art hires new Curator of Asian Art

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The Birmingham Museum of Art hires new Curator of Asian Art
Prior to her appointment Paul served as curator of the Arts of Asia at the Newark Museum from 2008 to the spring of 2019.

BIRMINGHAM, AL.- The Birmingham Museum of Art announced the appointment of Dr. Katherine Anne Paul as The Virginia and William M. Spencer III Curator of Asian Art. Paul began her tenure on August 19, 2019. She will oversee a permanent collection of approximately 4,000 works of art from diverse cultures throughout Asia dating from the 5th century BCE to the present.

“We are delighted that Katherine Anne Paul has joined the staff of the BMA. She has done fantastic things in the field of Asian art and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position,” says Anne Forschler, Chief Curator and The Marguerite Jones Harbert and John M. Harbert III Curator of Decorative Arts at the Birmingham Museum of Art. “We are certain that Katie will take our Asian collection to the next level, with regard to both collection development and programming.”

Paul assumes the position following the 2017 retirement of the BMA’s longstanding curator of Asian art, Dr. Donald Wood. Prior to her appointment, Paul served as curator of the Arts of Asia at the Newark Museum from 2008 to the spring of 2019, where she helped create and shape the vision of the collections, exhibitions, research, and publications for the Arts of Asia and the Pacific, a collection of more than 33,000 objects. While at the Newark Museum, Paul’s significant in-house and traveling exhibitions included ​Kimono Refashioned: 1870s-Now! (2018); Secrets of Buddhist Art: Tibet, Japan and Korea, (2017), Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam through Time & Place (2016); Ming to Modern: Elevating the Everyday in Chinese Art (2013); Loving Devotion: Visions of Vishnu from the Newark Museum ​ (2012), ​Tiaras to Toe Rings, Asian Ornaments ​ (2010) among others.

Between 2002 and 2008, Paul served first as Assistant Curator then as Associate Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has also held positions at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. A Fulbright scholar, Paul has performed field research in over 26 Asian nations studying a range of topics dating from ancient times to present day. She has published extensively on numerous subjects related to Asian art. She holds a degree in Art History from Reed College (BA) and degrees in Languages and Cultures of Asia from University of Wisconsin - Madison (MA, Ph.D.). She served on the steering committee for the American Curators of Asian Art (2010-2017) and as a board member of the Seol Won Foundation since 2017.

In her new role at the BMA, Paul will oversee the development, research, presentation, and care of the collection of Asian art, including paintings, works on paper, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, and other Asian decorative arts objects. She will work to develop and implement in-house and traveling exhibitions from the permanent collection, while bringing in significant exhibitions and acquisitions of Asian art from elsewhere.

“I am thrilled to join Birmingham’s vibrant community and honored to build on the inspirational legacy of Donald Wood, curator emeritus of Asian art,” says Katherine Anne Paul. “It is exciting to join the Museum in this transformative time, and I look forward to enhancing the Museum’s rich and internationally renowned collections to better showcase them through new installations, exhibitions and publications that connect to today’s and tomorrow’s visitors.”

Highlights of the BMA’s Asian art collection include one of the finest selections of Vietnamese ceramics outside Asia, an outstanding gathering of Chinese ceramics and lacquerwares, a superior collection of Korean art (particularly metalworks), a growing collection of Japanese materials (including arms and armor) and an excellent collection of South and Southeast Asian sculpture.

The collection also includes hundreds of rare Chinese and Japanese paintings, Japanese woodblock prints as well as Buddhist, Shinto, Hindu and Jain sculptures from what is present-day Cambodia, China, Japan, Korea, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tibet. Because of its collection, the Museum is the primary center for Asian studies in the southeastern United States.

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