Eugenie Tsai, senior curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum and architect of numerous notable shows, will step down from her position after 15 years, she announced on Instagram today. Her last day in the role is set for June 30.
“All institutions are flawed, but I can’t think of another museum where I would rather have spent the last 15 years,” she wrote. “I love my colleagues, the artists I’ve had the privilege of working with, and the wonderful audiences served by the museum. I was fortunate to have stayed healthy and productive during the pandemic. Now I feel the need for rest and reflection.”
Tsai joined the museum in 2007 as the John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art after holding leadership roles at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1) in Queens and the Whitney Museum. Her tenures across each institution were marked by buzzy debuts of now-major talents and big-picture initiatives intended to create a more inclusive museum environment.
With Tsai at the helm, the Brooklyn Museum organized early shows of Mickalene Thomas (2012) and LaToya Ruby Frazier (2013), and in 2011 launched a year-long series of exhibitions by emerging local artists called “Raw/Cooked”.
“This is a moment when there is probably not one corner of Brooklyn that has not been colonized by artists,” Tsai said told the New York Times around the debut of the series. “We wanted to create a framework and platform for some of these artists and make sure they have a systematic presence at the museum.”
Tsai’s last project with the museum as senior curator is an ongoing show of 11 paintings, by the New York–based British artist Oscar yi Hou. At 24, the self-described “internet kid” is one of the youngest artists to have a solo exhibition at a prominent New York museum. The show, titled “Oscar yi Hou: East of sun, west of moon” examines the complicated position of Asian Americans in this country’s history. His works reference popular culture and historical artifacts, including the Asian art collections.
“After I recharge, my plans include new projects and revisiting some that have been on the back burner, Tsai wrote, adding that “among other things, I’ll be taking a deep dive back into art and history.”
[Update 5/18/2023: A previous version of this article misstated that Tsai was involved in the Brooklyn Museum’s renovation of its Asian and Islamic art galleries.]