The National Museum of Asian Art has announced the newest appointments to its board of trustees: Mindy Kaling, Emmy-nominated writer, producer, New York Times best-selling author, director and actor; June Li, historian of Asian art and founding curator (emerita) of the Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens; and Young Yang Chung, textile historian, museum founder and director and embroiderer, who is renewing her appointment for a second term. Each is a pioneer in her field, and all share a common commitment to arts and culture, especially in their power to foster understanding and respect and to celebrate diversity and community. They join at a pivotal moment as the National Museum of Asian Art prepares for its centennial in 2023—a springboard for the museum’s ongoing transformative work to broaden and deepen its impact on site, online and through national and international partnerships.
“The National Museum of Asian Art has a long tradition deeply rooted in the appreciation of Asian arts and history, with iconic objects in our collection that date back thousands of years,” said Chase F. Robinson, the Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. “As we enter our centennial year, we’re building on that deep tradition by launching a variety of innovative digital initiatives, public programs and community collaborations, which will help us share Asian arts and cultures with a wide range of audiences. Mindy, June and Young Yang personify these different facets of our museum. It is an honor to have them join our board at this important moment in our history.”
The Smithsonian’s Board of Regents approved their appointment for four-year terms each, effective October 1, 2022. The 17-member board of regents, consisting of the Chief Justice of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, three members of the United States Senate, three members of the United States House of Representatives, and nine citizens, is responsible for the administration of the Smithsonian.
“I want to personally thank Mindy, June and Young Yang for their commitment to the National Museum of Asian Art and the vision and mission we have set forth,” said Antoine van Agtmael, the museum’s board chair. “These new appointees bring the board to 27 elected members, a diverse group of accomplished individuals from around the world who enrich our museum with their unique perspectives. Over the last three years, we have nearly doubled our membership, and never in the museum’s history have we had a larger or more diverse board.”
About the New Members
Emmy-nominated writer, producer, New York Times best-selling author, director, actor, and, most recently a Tony Award winner, Kaling has been named one of the brightest voices of her generation.
At 24, Kaling joined the eight-person writing staff of The Office as the only woman. During her eight seasons, Kaling starred as Kelly Kapoor, wrote 26 episodes (more than any other writer), and became the first woman of color to be nominated for an Emmy in any writing category. Kaling directed two episodes and served as both producer and executive producer on over 120 episodes, earning five consecutive nominations for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
After signing an overall development deal with Universal Television, Kaling created the The Mindy Project, which she starred in and executive produced. At the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Kaling premiered her debut screenplay, Late Night. The film received critical acclaim and was sold to Amazon for a record-setting deal.
One of Kaling’s more recent projects is the critically acclaimed series Never Have I Ever for Netflix, which recently wrapped production on its fourth and final season. Kaling is also the co-creator and executive producer of The Sex Lives of College Girls, which had the biggest premiere of any comedy on HBO Max in 2021. Upcoming projects for Kaling include season two of The Sex Lives of College Girls, Legally Blonde 3 and the animated adult-comedy Scooby-Doo prequel Velma.
Kaling has released two New York Times best-selling comedic memoirs and a collection of essays with Amazon. In 2022, Kaling launched a boutique literary line, Mindy’s Book Studio from Amazon, with its first selection, Sonali Dev’s The Vibrant Years, releasing this December.
Li is curator emerita and founding curator of Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing
Fragrance, at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. She began in this role in 2004 to establish the historical and cultural context for the garden while it was being built. She founded a series of educational programs, including lectures, symposiums, exhibitions, and performance arts to highlight Chinese garden culture. Li and her husband, Simon, also established the Center for East Asian Garden Studies at the Huntington. The first phase of the garden opened in 2008, the second in 2014 and completion was in 2020. After Li’s retirement in 2014, she continued as an advisor on Huntington projects, including the garden and curated an exhibition for which she co-authored the catalog “Gardens, Art and Commerce in Chinese Woodblock Prints.”
Li previously worked at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, first as a registrar then as assistant curator. She managed several exhibitions on Chinese art, including two major traveling exhibitions from China (a tomb sculpture show from Chinese museums, “The Quest for Eternity,” 1986–1988, and one on significant paintings from the collections of the Palace Museum in Beijing and the Shanghai Museum, “The Century of Tung Ch’i-Ch’ang,” 1990–1992). She also curated “Paintings of Zhi Yuan: Revisiting a Seventeenth-Century Chinese Garden” in 1995. Li retired as the associate curator of Chinese and Korean Art.
Li is a member of the East Asian Art Committee at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She serves on the boards of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Pasadena Conservatory of Music.
Li was born and raised in Hong Kong and studied art history, East Asian studies and Chinese art history at the University of Toronto and University of Pennsylvania.
Young Yang Chung
Chung is a textile historian, museum founder and director, collector and artist. She is a scholar of East Asian textiles and author of numerous books on the subject. Passionate about the art of embroidery from an early age, she founded her own institute, the International Embroidery School, in 1965. She is a master embroiderer, with works in several museum collections. She received Master of Arts and doctorate degrees in art education from New York University in the 1970s, and in the following decades committed herself to studying and perfecting Asian embroidery techniques and transmitting her knowledge of textile skills and history to audiences worldwide. Through lectures, demonstrations, publications and teaching, she has endeavored to foster appreciation of an art form often stigmatized as “women’s work” and to challenge the notion of textiles as “minor arts.”
Chung founded the Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul, Korea, in 2004, which she continues to direct. She also founded the Seol Won Foundation with a mission to advance knowledge and appreciation of world textile arts and promote cultural understanding between peoples in the East and West, sponsoring a variety of art exhibitions and educational efforts such as lectures, workshops, research projects, study programs and scholarly exchange. Entering her second term with the museum, she has served with distinction as a trustee since 2018.
About the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art is committed to preserving, exhibiting, researching and interpreting art in ways that deepen our collective understanding of Asia and the world. Home to more than 45,000 objects, the museum stewards one of North America’s largest and most comprehensive collections of Asian art, with works dating from antiquity to the present from China, Japan, Korea, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Islamic world. Its rich holdings bring the arts of Asia into direct dialogue with an important collection of 19th- and early 20th-century American works, providing an essential platform for creative collaboration and cultural exchange between the United States, Asia and the Middle East.
Beginning with a 1906 gift that paved the way for the museum’s opening in 1923, the National Museum of Asian Art is a leading resource for visitors, students, and scholars in the United States and internationally. Its galleries, laboratories, archives, and library are located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and are part of the world’s largest museum complex, which typically reports more than 27 million visits each year. The museum is free and open to the public 364 days a year, making its exhibitions, programs, learning opportunities and digital initiatives accessible to global audiences.