Jan Stuart

Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art


Jan Stuart became the first Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art in 2014, after serving as Keeper of Asia (department head) at the British Museum from 2006 to 2014. There, in addition to senior management responsibilities and curatorial work, she led the project to create a new gallery for the Sir Percival David collection of Chinese ceramics. Prior to her position at the British Museum, Stuart began her career as a curator at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, after holding a Mellon Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from Princeton and Yale Universities in Chinese art, language, and culture.

Her main curatorial focus is on arts from the tenth century forward, with emphasis on ceramics, decorative arts, textiles, and court arts, including paintings. Exhibitions with related publications at the Freer and Sackler include Empresses of China’s Forbidden City, 1644-1912, with Daisy Yiyou Wang, co-organized with the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem) and the Palace Museum (Beijing) in 2018-19. Stuart was awarded the Secretary of the Smithsonian’s Research Prize in 2019 for the catalogue.

Other projects have included new displays of Chinese art for the 2017 renovation of the Freer Gallery, and exhibitions and publications Red: Ming Dynasty/Mark Rothko (2016); Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits, with Evelyn Rawski (2001); Return of the Buddha: Qingzhou Sculptures (2004); Joined Colors: Decoration and Meaning in Chinese Porcelain, with Louise Cort (1993); and Challenging the Past: The Paintings of Chang Dai-chien, with Fu Shen (1991). Stuart has been active in museum acquisitions and publishes and lectures regularly.