UC Berkeley alumna Christina Yang appointed BAMPFA chief curator

Photo of Christina Yang, new chief curator at BAMPFA
A.J. Fox/Courtesy
UC Berkeley alumna Christina Yang will assume the role of chief curator at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in January 2022, bringing a fresh focus on audience participation.

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Situated at the edge of campus and Downtown Berkeley is the institution where Christina Yang’s dreams were nurtured, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA.

Yang, a campus alumna who studied history and art history, said she found her passion for curation when she interned at BAMPFA as an undergraduate student. Now, with more than 30 years of experience as a curator, administrator, scholar and teacher, she has been appointed as the museum’s chief curator.

Yang’s new role, which she will assume in January 2022, was announced by BAMPFA on Oct. 7.

“The way that we think about knowledge, the way we think about the medium, the arts, and the world is something I am looking forward to bringing to Berkeley,” Yang said in the discussion of her new role.

In addition to her curatorial experience, Yang said she has a strong background in performance, programming and engagement. She currently serves as a deputy director at Williams College Museum of Art in Massachusetts, according to a BAMPFA press release.

Prior to that role, she served as the Director of Public Programs at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and held several positions at The Kitchen and the Queens Museum in New York City, the press release said.

Yang’s experience directing public programs at Guggenheim will put a new focus on audience engagement in her curatorial work at BAMPFA, according to BAMPFA Director Julie Rodrigues Widholm, who selected Yang for the new role.

“That way of working creates many entries for the audience to engage with exhibition and artwork — that is critical to the field of museum arts today,” Widholm said.  “I look forward to seeing how her experience and talents, vision and collaboration will affect the future of BAMPFA.”

Widohlm added that she chose Yang because they share a “fundamental vision” for BAMPFA. They are both interested in shaping the museum to serve the Berkeley community, support artists and connect the present and past in a “fresh and interesting way,” Widohlm said.

As chief curator, Yang said she will oversee two main departments of BAMPFA: collections and exhibitions production. She added that she will work to ensure the artistic vision of the museum is in line with administrative logistics, improve the accessibility of the website and community building with the campus.

Yang noted that 20% of her job will involve her own curatorial work.

She said she looks forward to learning from the staff at BAMPFA and thanked the Bay Area community for extending “such a warm welcome.”

“I am looking forward to getting to know my curatorial colleagues, supporting their work, being a partner with them and thinking about what artists and programs are priorities and urgencies,” Yang said.

Contact Winnie Lau at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @winniewy_lau.