Yao-Fen You will serve as senior curator and head of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department, beginning January 2019.
As senior curator and head of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department, You will organize national and international exhibitions, publications and education programs, as well as oversee the development of the department’s collection. International in scope, the department contains a comprehensive ceramics collection, most notably European porcelain and earthenware, furniture, metalwork, lighting, glass, jewelry, models, architectural elements and industrial design.
You joins the Cooper Hewitt following 10 years at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), where she was responsible for the research, display, interpretation, acquisition and publication of the museum’s holdings in European arms and armor, silver, stained glass, textiles, porcelain (British, Chinese Export and German) and sculpture (Netherlandish, Spanish and German) in her capacity as associate curator of European sculpture and decorative arts. Her exhibition credits include “Bitter | Sweet: Coffee, Tea & Chocolate” (2016), the DIA’s first exhibition to engage all the senses; “Fabergé: The Rise and Fall, The Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts” (2012); and “Designed for Convenience: Tableware from the DIA” (2011). During her tenure, she also made significant acquisitions for the collections across a range of media and helped increase access to the collections by partnering with online databases such as the Gothic Ivories Project, the Index of Christian Art and, most recently, the Rembrandt Database.
From 2004 to 2007, You served as the Theodore Rousseau Post- Doctoral Fellow in European Paintings at the Fogg Art Museum/Harvard Art Museums, where she co-curated “Objects for a Kunstkammer: Early European Collecting, 1550–1700.” She has also held curatorial positions at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) in Ann Arbor and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
A frequent author and invited speaker, You has lectured and participated in symposia and panels nationally and internationally. Her published scholarship reflects her diverse expertise in polychrome sculpture, the history of collecting and art markets, the art of dining, early modern textiles and fashion and Northern European decorative arts. She is committed to collections documentation and researching ownership histories, and was selected to participate in the 2018 German/American Provenance Research Exchange Program (PREP) for Museum Professionals.
You holds a PhD and master’s degree in the history of art from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a bachelor’s degree in the history of art from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a 2007 graduate of the Attingham Summer School. Additionally, she serves on committees for the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) and Curators of Dutch and Flemish Art (CODART) and has served on the board of the Historians of Netherlandish Art (HNA).