Art Museums appoints new curator of Chinese art

Headshot of Sarah Laursen.

Sarah Laursen is the new curator of Chinese Art at the Harvard Art Museums. Photo by Keith MacDonald Photography

3 min read

Sarah Laursen has been appointed as the new Alan J. Dworsky Associate Curator of Chinese Art at the Harvard Art Museums, effective June 15.

Laursen is currently the Robert P. Youngman Curator of Asian Art at the Middlebury College Museum of Art, in Middlebury, Vt.; she is also assistant professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Middlebury, where she leads courses for undergraduate students on Asian art and art history and museum studies. Her expertise is in the art of early medieval China, and she has extensive curatorial, teaching, and research experience encompassing topics ranging from ancient India and Korea to contemporary China. Laursen, who has substantial experience in the digital humanities, has incorporated digital tools such as API, ArcGIS StoryMaps, and photogrammetry into her exhibitions and teaching, seeking new ways to increase audience engagement, reveal patterns in art historical data, and improve accessibility for visitors with disabilities.

Laursen returns to Harvard after having been part of a significant project in the early 2000s to catalogue and digitize the Asian collections held in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum. That initiative, which received major support from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, gave her the opportunity to become well acquainted with the Chinese objects in the collection. The project contributed to the growth of online records available in the museums’ searchable collections tool, launched in May 2002.

In her role at the Harvard Art Museums, Laursen will join the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art. She will primarily be responsible for the care, documentation, research, and presentation of the museums’ extraordinary collection of Chinese art, working closely with division colleagues and museum supporters to expand the collection. Laursen will also contribute to the care and presentation of the museums’ Korean art and Buddhist art collections. Additionally, she will collaborate with colleagues in the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art on the acquisition and presentation of contemporary works of Chinese art.

“We are delighted to welcome Sarah to our museums after an extensive search for a Chinese art curator who will truly thrive in this environment and working with this collection,” said director Martha Tedeschi, the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums. “Her talents and experience as a curator and teacher, along with her creativity and passion, will enliven and strengthen the Harvard Art Museums’ impact in the field of Chinese art history.”