Headshot of curator Massumeh Farhad smilingAdvisory Board Chair

Massumeh Farhad

Massumeh Farhad joined the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, in 1995 as associate curator of Islamic Art. In 2004, she was appointed chief curator and curator of Islamic art. She is a specialist in the arts of the book from sixteenth-century and seventeenth-century Iran. Dr. Farhad has curated numerous exhibitions on the arts of the Islamic world at the Freer and Sackler, including Art of the Persian Courts (1996), Fountains of Light: The Nuhad Es-Said Collection of Metalwork (2000), Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey (2005-6), The Tsars and the East: Gifts from Turkey and Iran in the Moscow Kremlin (2009), Falnama: The Book of Omens (2009-10), Roads of Arabia: History and Archaeology of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2012), and The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (2016).

She received her PhD in Islamic Art History from Harvard University in 1987. Her publications include Slaves of the Shah: New Elites in Safavid Iran (2004), Falnama: The Book of Omens (2009), The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (2016), and A Collector’s Passion: Ezzat-Malek Soudavar and Persian Lacquer (2017).

Qianshen Bai

Qianshen Bai graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Peking University and a Ph.D. from Yale University. He taught Chinese art history at Boston University from 1997 to 2015. Currently, he is a professor and dean of the School of Art and Archaeology at Zhejiang University, as well as director of Zhejiang University Museum of Art and Archaeology. He is the author of Fu Shan’s World: The Transformation of Chinese Calligraphy in the Seventeenth Century (Harvard University Asia Center, 2003), and three monographs in Chinese. He has received fellowships from The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2004) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (2011). He is now conducting a research on Wu Dacheng, a government official, scholar, collector, and painter-calligrapher, in the late Qing dynasty. Professor Bai is also an accomplished calligrapher.


Kevin Carr

Kevin Carr is the associate professor of Japanese art at the University of Michigan. He teaches all aspects of the history of Japanese art and archaeology, but his research focuses on the visual cultural of popular religious cults of medieval Japan (especially thirteenth-fifteenth centuries). His work engages issues of visual narrative, hagiography, and the construction of history and national consciousness through art. He has also worked on cultural exchanges between Japan and Europe in the seventeenth century and the nineteenth century, the epistemological foundations of medieval art, and the interpretation of material culture in the absence of textual evidence. His current project focuses on communal identities as manifest in images of temple origin stories (engi-e) in fourteenth-century Japan.


Christiane Gruber

Christiane Gruber is Chair and Professor of Islamic art in the History of Art Department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her scholarly work explores figural representation, depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, and ascension texts and images in Islamic traditions, about which she has written three books and edited half a dozen volumes. She also pursues research in Islamic book arts, codicology, and paleography as well as modern and contemporary visual and material culture. Her most recent publications include her single authored book The Praiseworthy One: The Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Texts and Images and her edited volume The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World, both published in 2019. Her scholarly publications can be accessed here.


Carol Huh

Carol Huh, associate curator of contemporary Asian art, became the Freer|Sackler’s first curator of contemporary art in 2007. Through exhibitions, acquisitions, and public programs, Huh focuses on current artistic production related to Asia. Recent projects include the museum’s Perspectives series including works by Y.Z. Kami, Anish Kapoor, Hai Bo, Hale Tenger, Rina Banerjee, Ai Weiwei, Chiharu Shiota, and Michael Joo). Huh also organized Moving Perspectives, the museum’s first series of exhibitions focusing on video art from Asia. Special exhibitions include Notes from the Desert: Photographs by Gauri Gill (2016), Symbolic Cities: The Work of Ahmed Mater(2016), Sense of Place: Landscape Photographs from Asia (2013), Nine Deaths, Two Births: Xu Bing’s Phoenix Project (2013), Shadow Sites: Recent Work by Jananne al-Ani(2012), and Fiona Tan: Rise and Fall (in-house curator, 2010).

Huh is a member of the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship Committee and the Smithsonian Networks Review Committee. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

headshot of Simon RettigADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Simon Rettig

Simon Rettig has been the Freer|Sackler’s assistant curator of Islamic art since 2016. Between 2012 and 2016, he was the museums’ curatorial fellow for the arts of the Islamic world. He previously worked at the French Research Institute in Istanbul and the Freie Üniversität in Berlin. Rettig received his BA from the École du Louvre in Paris and his MA and doctorate from the Université de Provence Aix-Marseille I, France.

Rettig has curated the exhibitions Nasta‘liq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy (2014) and The Prince and the Shah: Royal Portraits from Qajar Iran (2018), and he cocurated with Massumeh Farhad The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (2016). He has published several articles on the arts of the book from the Islamic world, including the recent essay “A ‘Timurid-like Response’ to the Qur’an of Gwalior, Manuscript W563 at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore,” in Éloïse Brac de la Perrière and Monique Burési, eds., Le coran de Gwalior: Polysémie d’un manuscrit à peintures (Paris, 2016). He also recently published with Massumeh Farhad A Collector’s Passion: Ezzat-Malek Soudavar and Persian Lacquer (2017). His current projects include the preparation of a monograph on the Freer’s celebrated Khusraw u Shirin manuscript.


Haicheng Wang

As an associate professor of art history at the University of Washington, Haicheng Wang’s curriculum includes surveys of Chinese art and various topics on the art and archaeology of the Bronze Age. His research centers on two areas of comparative study. The first is cultural contact, exchange, and transmission. One of Wang’s current projects is to investigate the artistic exchange between China and its neighbors in the first millennium BCE. His second area of study is the comparison of cultures assumed not to have been in contact to gain insight into possible trajectories of cultural development. His book Writing and the Ancient State: Early China in Comparative Perspective analyzes how writing was used by early states in China, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Central Mexico, the Maya region, and the Andean states. A follow-up to this book will be a comparative study of calligraphy in different cultural traditions.


Sana Mirza

Sana Mirza joined the Scholarly Programs and Publications division of the Freer and Sackler in 2014. She has contributed to various research projects related to Islamic Art and managed digital initiatives, including the online exhibition The Sogdians: Influencers on the Silk RoadsIn addition to her work managing Ars Orientalis and other research publications, Sana coordinates the museum’s fellowship programs and scholarly events.

Sana received her PhD in Islamic Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University in 2021. Her dissertation explores a corpus of Qur’an manuscripts from eastern Ethiopia produced between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries and their Red Sea and Indian Ocean milieus. She is coediting with Simon Rettig The Word Illuminated: Qur’an Manuscripts from the 7th–17th Centuries (Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press) and has contributed to the exhibition catalogue The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures of the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Sana earned her BA in History and Art History with a minor in Islamic Studies from George Mason University and an MA in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU.