Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art
Dr. Debra Diamond is curator of South and Southeast Asian art at the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. She is currently re-cataloguing paintings in the collection, working on an international loan exhibition for 2022, A Splendid Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur, and designing a digital component for an exhibition of Persian and Mughal painting, Writing My Truth: The Mughal Emperor Babur. Her most recent exhibition, Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice Across Asia (2017), was accompanied by the publication of Paths to Perfection, the museums’ first handbook of its Buddhist collections, and an app exploring Tibetan sacred spaces. Her reinstallation of the permanent South Asian galleries in the Freer, Body Image: Arts from the Indian Subcontinent, also opened the same year.
A specialist in Indian court painting and the visual culture of yoga, Dr. Diamond received First Place Awards of Excellence from the Assocation of Art Museum Curators for her exhibition, Yoga: The Art of Transformation (2013) and for the associated catalogue. In 2008, she was the curator for the acclaimed international exhibition Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur; the exhibition catalog won the 2010 Alfred H. Barr, Jr. award for best museum scholarship and Smithsonian Secretary’s research prize. She also coordinated the yearlong Celebration of India at the Freer and Sackler, which encompassed two exhibitions and a wide array of public programs devoted to making south Asian art and culture come alive for diverse audiences.
Dr. Diamond has curated numerous exhibitions at the Sackler Gallery, including Worlds within Worlds: Imperial Paintings from India and Iran (2012); In the Realm of the Buddha (2010); Facing East: Portraits from Asia (2006); Perspectives: Simryn Gill (2006); Autofocus: Raghubir Singh’s Way into India (2003); and the re-installation of Arts of the Indian Subcontinent and the Himalayas at the Freer. She received her PhD in south Asian art history from Columbia University (2000).