The Asian Art Museum today announces the appointment of Emiko Usui in the newly created role of Deputy Director / Chief Experience Officer.
The role will play a vital part in helping the Asian Art Museum fulfill its five-year strategic plan (2023–27). The principal goals of that plan are to become an experience-centered institution, to expand the museum’s digital footprint, and to broaden its impact among new and existing audiences.
In this new role, Usui will lead a major initiative to reshape all facets of how visitors interact with the museum, developing and implementing strategies to translate curatorial vision into physical and digital experiences that engage new, existing, and diverse audiences. Usui will oversee collections, curatorial, experience design, digital, marketing and communications functions within the museum. As a key member of the executive team, she will report to the Director and CEO.
Usui will commence her role at the Asian Art Museum on January 16, 2024. She is currently the Chief Content Officer & Publisher at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, where she leads the Content Strategy, Publishing, and Branding division, and previously spent many years in publishing and curatorial positions, as well as new business development, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and in the private sector.
In addition to her success as a content strategist and publisher at the National Gallery of Art, Usui has been responsible for an institutional shift toward cross-functional teams closely aligned with the objectives of the Asian Art Museum.
“Emiko joins our museum at a singularly exciting moment, with an expanded campus, reimagined galleries, and a contemporary art program growing by leaps and bounds. At the same time, we have now ‘doubled’ our mission to include the art, culture, and history of Asian Americans — together this means storytelling possibilities on a major new scale,” says Jay Xu, the Barbara Bass Bakar Director and CEO of the Asian Art Museum. “With her unique expertise that touches on the full range of everything a museum does these days — from rigorous curatorial research, to the development of engaging digital content, to the presentation of an unforgettable program, to building a platform for diverse voices to share their stories — we cannot wait to see what inspiring experiences Emiko will offer our audiences.”
“I’m thrilled to come aboard the Asian Art Museum at such a dynamic moment, when showcasing the richness and diversity not only of Asian artists, but also of Asian American artists, is a priority,” says Usui. “The position brings together the many facets of my work in museums to date and brings me back to the creative and innovative culture of San Francisco and the Bay Area. I am grateful to Jay Xu and his leadership team for the opportunity to develop experiences that demonstrate how there is more to Asian art than stereotypes frozen in time — we want to show that it’s not only historically important; Asian art is also modern, contemporary, and alive.”
Asian Art Museum Strategic Plan: Connecting You to Asia, and Asia to You
What does it mean to be “experience-centered”? While maintaining the exceptional curatorial and scholarly work for which the Asian Art Museum is celebrated, we will expand our audiences and deepen their relationship with the museum by creating inspiring and thought-provoking experiences — both physical and digital — that demonstrate the impact and relevance of Asian and Asian American art and culture in contemporary life. Our focus will be to challenge stereotypes, create cross-cultural understanding, celebrate heritage and innovation, and connect the past to the present and the future.
Below are the pillars of this strategic plan:
We will prioritize the creation of memorable, satisfying, and inspiring experiences, both onsite and virtually, which will motivate visitors to keep returning to the museum’s programs and exhibitions. Partnering with audiences in creating these experiences will ensure they meet visitors’ expectations and needs. By sharing stories with — and of — our community in new and relevant ways, we will become a welcoming “third place” to engage, energize, and inspire visitors outside their home and work lives.
Accelerate our digital transformation
We’re developing immersive digital tools that sync up with how we already like to spend time. Expanding these applications will enable the museum to create new offerings that enliven visitor experiences both at the museum and online. These are tools that make our collections even more accessible — whether with a personal device or as an all-encompassing experience. Embracing technology will also support communication and coordination of staff internally, improving our effectiveness and efficiency as we work to connect with and delight all our audiences.
Grow and diversify audiences
Significantly expanding in-museum and virtual attendance is the key to increasing social impact and securing sustainability. As a world-class institution and the largest museum in the US dedicated to Asian art and culture, we have a responsibility to serve communities locally, nationally, and globally by increasing appreciation for Asian and Asian American culture and experiences and promoting empathy, inclusion, and diversity.
“The core of our strategic plan is to become even more experience-centered,” says Xu. “That means putting the visitor first, ensuring they feel connected, immersed, moved, and reflected in all we do — Emiko understands intuitively how to weave multiple teams together to achieve this goal.”
About the Asian Art Museum
Located in the heart of San Francisco, the museum is home to one of the world’s finest collections of Asian and Asian American art, with more than 20,000 awe-inspiring works ranging from ancient jades and ceramics to contemporary video installations. Dynamic special exhibitions, cultural celebrations and public programs for all ages provide rich art experiences that unlock the past and spark questions about the future.