After 30 years at Seattle Art Museum, curator Chiyo Ishikawa has announced her retirement. She will step down in summer of 2020.
Ishikawa, SAM’s deputy director for art and curator of European painting and sculpture, came to the museum in 1990 as a half-time assistant curator of European painting and went on to help bring influential exhibitions to the museum, including “Leonardo Lives: The Codex Leicester and Leonardo da Vinci’s Legacy of Art and Science” (1997) and “Spain in the Age of Exploration: 1492-1819” (2004). She was named deputy director for art, heading the museum’s curatorial division, in 2005; at the time, The Seattle Times called her a “a smart, steady asset to SAM.”
She has also curated major exhibitions related to France including surveys of French Impressionism, Picasso, Gauguin and the fashion titan Yves Saint Laurent. She has received international honors for her work bringing notable European art to Seattle: Spain’s Order of Isabel la Católica and France’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
“Curators are agents of change in our museums, making institutions inclusive and accessible by reexamining the lessons and narratives of the past,” Judith Pineiro, executive director of the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC), said in a Seattle Art Museum news release. Ishikawa, she continued, “has been of immense service to the AAMC Foundation and our mission to advance the curatorial profession to be more diverse, relevant and thought-provoking.“
Ishikawa has also taught art history at the University of Washington as an adjunct professor since 1990.
“Our doors will always be open to Chiyo,” Amada Cruz, SAM’s director and CEO, said in a statement. “My hope is that she will become bored in retirement and will want to organize special exhibitions for us from time to time.”
Seattle Art Museum reports that the search for a replacement will begin immediately.