Assistant Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art
Emma Natalya Stein joined the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, as curatorial fellow for Southeast Asian art after completing her PhD in the History of Art at Yale University in 2017, and then joined the curatorial staff in 2019. Her research centers on the relationship between sacred architecture and tropical landscapes in premodern South and Southeast Asia, with an emphasis on mapping sacred and urban space. Her exhibitions include Power in Southeast Asia (opened 2017) and Prehistoric Spirals: Earthenwares from Thailand (opens 2020).
Stein has also created a robust online resource for Southeast Asia that connects objects in the Freer and Sackler collections with the landscapes and cultures where they originate. The website features an interactive map of sacred sites based on her decade of fieldwork in Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, and Sri Lanka. She frequently presents aspects of her research and the museum collections at institutions in Asia, Europe, and the United States.