Soyoung Lee Named Chief Curator of the Harvard Art Museums

Soyoung Lee
The Harvard Art Museums named Soyoung Lee as its chief curator earlier this week. Lee is currently a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The Harvard Art Museums appointed Soyoung Lee—currently a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—as its new chief curator earlier this week.

Lee will assume her role starting Sept. 24. Lee first joined the Met in 2003 as its first curator for Korean art, and in her 15-year career, has served as curator, associate curator, and assistant curator in the Department of Asian Art.

Martha Tedeschi, director of the Harvard Art Museums, said the museum intends to launch several new initiatives under its new curator.

“We’re undergoing a period of strategic planning this summer,” Tedeschi said.

Tedeschi said the museum is looking to revamp its training programs, as well as those that provide “pathways to the museum field”—including high school programs and postdoctoral fellowships.


Tedeschi said Lee will be instrumental in the review process to create an “up to date and effective pathway into the field.”

Tedeschi also said Lee will be responsible for overseeing the development of areas that had previously fallen outside the museum’s focus, including pieces from people of color or those “of a particular medium that has been undervalued in the past.”

“It is hard for an individual curator embedded in the field to see the institutional needs,” Tedeschi said.

The chief curator, however, should have an idea of the bigger picture and be able to nurture the necessary discussion across departments, according to Tedeschi.

Lee has organized a number of international loan exhibitions, and is currently collaborating with colleagues at the Met on two major cross-departmental exhibitions—to debut in fall 2018 and spring 2020, according to a press release.

From 2016 to 2017, Lee served as chair of the Met’s Forum of Curators, Conservators, and Scientists and currently serves on the museum’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee to the President.

She is also a trustee-at-large for the Association of Art Museum Curators and one of twelve fellows in the Center for Curatorial Leadership’s 2018 cohort.

According to a press release, her research interests encompass “cross-cultural exchanges in East Asian art and culture.”

—Staff writer Kanishk A. Mittal can be reached at


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