Chase Robinson leaning on a banister in the Freer Gallery.Chase F. Robinson is the Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art, which together constitute the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. He joined the museum in December 2018. As director, Robinson leads the museum in a five-year strategy that will expand its renowned collections of the arts of East Asia, South Asia, and the Islamic world, celebrate its century-long association with American art, introduce new audiences and technologies, and foster an understanding of the arts, cultures, and societies of Asia.

Robinson came to the Smithsonian from the Graduate Center, the research campus of the City University of New York, where he had served as President (2013–18), as Provost and Senior Vice President (2008–13), and as Distinguished Professor of History. From 1993 to 2008, Robinson was a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Wolfson College in England. As Professor of Islamic History, Robinson chaired the Faculty Board of the department, which offers degrees in the languages, histories, cultures, and arts of East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. Robinson earned his BA degree at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and his MA and PhD degrees in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His studies also took him to Jerusalem and Cairo.

A scholar of Islamic history and culture, Robinson has been awarded fellowships by the British Academy and Institute for Advanced Study, among others. He has authored or edited nine books and more than forty articles that span the geographical and chronological breadth of the pre- and early modern Middle East. His book Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives (2016) has been translated into several languages. The Works of al-Ya’qubi (2017) is a coedited, three-volume set of translations of some of the earliest surviving works of history and geography in Arabic. He has served on many boards and editorial committees and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

News and Remarks

Statement from the Director (March 19, 2021)

A different Lunar New Year celebration in D.C. (February 10, 2021)

Director’s Introduction to the Museum for the Relay Project
(premiered September 2020)
This video presentation is part of the Treasure Hunt Relay: Global Museum Director’s Choice, a digital initiative of the National Museum of China dedicated to helping audiences learn remotely about the cultural treasures of national museums from around the world, in both Chinese and English. Within twenty-four hours of its launch, our program was enjoyed by over one million viewers.

After Pearl Harbor, our museum hid Asian art. In coronavirus crisis, we’re showing it off. (May 2, 2020)

Listen to Chase F. Robinson’s remarks at the “Age Old Cities” press preview

Listen to Chase F. Robinson’s remarks at the “Whistler in Watercolor” press preview