• News
  • Feb 15, 2024

Aaron Seeto Appointed as Hirshhorn Deputy Director

Portrait of AARON SEETO. Courtesy Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara.

On February 12, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, announced that Aaron Seeto has been named deputy director, effective immediately. Since 2016, Seeto had been the director Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (MACAN) in Jakarta until his departure in December 2023.

Responding to his appointment, Seeto enthusiastically stated: “The Hirshhorn’s dynamic collection, vision for its public spaces and initiatives to expand public access to art and artists are profoundly inspiring. I am excited to have the opportunity to weave my experiences with emerging audiences in Asia into the fabric of the Hirshhorn’s future.” 

Prior to his employment with the Hirshhorn Museum, Seeto worked at Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, where he was curatorial manager of Asian and Pacific art. He also led the curatorial team for the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art from 2015 to 2016. Seeto joined MACAN in Jakarta as its first director ahead of its 2017 opening. 

At MACAN, Indonesia’s first private art museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art, Seeto oversaw exhibitions focused on the history of the development of contemporary art in both the international and Indonesian art scene. These projects included the first-ever major surveys of Indonesian artist Arahmaiani, Filipino artist duo Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Indonesian performance artist Melati Suryodarmo, and Indonesian artist Agus Suwage. Seeto also directed large institutional surveys of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Taiwanese installation artist Lee Mingwei, German artist and filmmaker Julian Rosefeldt, Japanese performance and installation artist Chiharu Shiota, and Chinese artist Xu Bing. Additionally, during Seeto’s seven-year tenure MACAN established itself as a partner to Indonesia’s educational system, initiating a variety of arts education programs to realize its mission of public accessibility within the arts. Seeto was succeeded by Venus Lau.     

Hirshhorn director Melissa Chiu said of Seeto’s appointment: “I admire what he achieved at Museum MACAN particularly, from organizing and contextualizing its collection and exhibitions to establishing interdisciplinary education programs, to make it one of the most influential museums of contemporary art in Asia. He’s an excellent addition to our leadership team as we engage increasingly broader audiences throughout our ongoing campus transformation” 

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture garden is a national museum of modern and contemporary art located on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Part of the Smithsonian, the museum is known for its significant collections of postwar American and European art.   

Camilla Alvarez-Chow is an editorial assistant at ArtAsiaPacific. 

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