Harvard Art Museums has appointed Ayşin Yoltar-Yıldırım as the new Norma Jean Calderwood Curator of Islamic and Late Indian Art, effective October 3.
Currently Hagop Kevorkian Associate Curator of Islamic Art at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, Yoltar-Yıldırım has been working since August 2017 to organize the extensive reinstallation of the Brooklyn Museum’s Arts of the Islamic World galleries, which after being closed for a decade are scheduled to reopen on September 30, 2022. She also curated the 2018-2019 exhibition “Syria, Then and Now: Stories from Refugees a Century Apart”.
Earlier in her career, Yoltar-Yıldırım held curatorial, research and teaching positions as well as fellowships at several institutions in her native Turkey and the United States, including with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture. from Harvard University, The Barakat Trust and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She has presented numerous lectures and taught courses on Islamic art across the United States and in Turkey. She is the author of the manual “Ottoman Decorative Arts”, as well as several articles on Islamic book arts and the history of Islamic collections.
Yoltar-Yıldırım returns to Harvard Art Museums after serving as Assistant Curator for Islamic and Later Indian Art from 2013-2017, and before that, Norma Jean Calderwood Curatorial Fellow 2011-2013. During her time as a Fellow, she assisted in the planning and installation of the 2013 exhibition “In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art” and contributed entries to the accompanying catalog. As Assistant Curator, she helped prepare and install the new galleries of Islamic and Late Indian Art, which opened as part of the renovated and expanded facilities at the Harvard Art Museums in New York. autumn 2014. She also curated the 2017 exhibition “A New Light on Bernard Berenson: Persian Paintings from Villa I Tatti”, after which she edited and contributed to the 2021 publication “Persian Manuscripts & Paintings from the Berenson Collection”.
In his new role at the Harvard Art Museums, Yoltar-Yıldırım will join the Asian and Mediterranean Art Division and oversee the museums Islamic and South Asian art collection. She will participate in a museum-wide reflection and reframing of the galleries of the museums’ permanent collections and will develop future special exhibitions dedicated to the art of Islamic regions and South Asia. She will collaborate with museum and campus colleagues to acquire new objects to diversify the collections. She will also work closely with students and faculty to expand the use of the collection in undergraduate and graduate teaching across all disciplines; she will mentor conservation students and fellows, training and encouraging the next generation in her field.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Ayşin back to the Harvard Art Museums, and we look forward to working with her to shape an institutional vision that promotes a more inclusive and expansive cultural space,” said director Martha Tedeschi.