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PEM appoints Stephanie H. Tung as Byrne Family Curator of Photography

The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) announces the appointment of Stephanie Hueon Tung as the museum’s new Byrne Family Curator of Photography, a role which oversees one of the nation’s oldest and largest photography collections. Formerly serving as PEM’s Assistant Curator and then Associate Curator with a focus on photography, Tung was instrumental in shepherding the 2020 acquisition of approximately 1,600 photographs by artists with ties to East Asia, a gift made possible through the generosity of the Joy of Giving Something Foundation. Tung served as the Assistant Curator on PEM’s 2019–20 exhibition, A Lasting Memento: John Thomson’s Photographs Along the River Min, and is currently co-curating PEM’s highly-anticipated, upcoming exhibition, Power and Perspective: Early Photography in Chinawhich opens in September 2022.

Tung has led the research and cataloging of PEM’s collection of approximately 2,500 works of 19th-century photography of China and will now lead the interpretation and presentation of the museum’s growing photography collection, which spans the 19th century through today.

“We are thrilled that Stephanie will lead PEM’s photography initiative and create dynamic exhibitions and programming that celebrate the global cultural and artistic impact of photography,” said Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, PEM’s Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Executive Director and CEO. “Her accomplishments as an author and scholar, combined with her creativity, vision, and international curatorial experience, make her a remarkable fit for this role.”

Prior to joining PEM in 2018, Tung worked at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing, China, as a curator and director of international affairs. Her exhibitions include Art Across Archives (Think!Chinatown Art Space, New York, 2018), Chinese Photography: Twentieth Century and Beyond (Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, 2015), and WATW: We are the World (Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, 2010). Tung has published widely on photography and contemporary art from China, as a contributor to Aperture and the Trans-Asia Photography Review and contributing author to The Chinese Photobook (Aperture, 2015) and Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World (Guggenheim, 2017). Her most recent book, Ai Weiwei: Beijing 1993-2003 (MIT Press, 2019), was co-authored with Ai Weiwei and John Tancock and serves as a continuation of Ai Weiwei: New York 1983-1993, for which she also served as lead researcher.

“I’m honored to assume this new role as the Byrne Family Curator of Photography and grateful for the generosity of the Byrne family and their commitment to the future of photography at PEM,” said Tung. 

Tung holds a Bachelor of Art in Literature and History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University, and a Masters of Arts in Art & Archeology from Princeton University. This year, she is completing her Ph.D. in Princeton’s Art & Archeology program with her dissertation, Pictorial China: Art Photography in the Republican Era, 1923–1929. 

“Stephanie is a respected and accomplished curator and scholar in the areas of photography and Chinese art history. She is also a warm, steadfast and creative colleague who approaches her work with openness and compassion. We look forward to the energy and spirit she will bring to our photography program through her excellent work at PEM,” added Petra Slinkard, Director of Curatorial Affairs and the Nancy B. Putnam Curator of Fashion and Textiles.

PEM’s Photography Collection

PEM’s extensive photography collection represents nearly every kind of photographic format and process. It includes some of the world’s finest 19th- and early 20th-century photographs of Asia, as well as historic and modern American photography, especially related to New England, the maritime world, and Native American culture. 

The collection dates to 1858 and tells the story of photography across three centuries. The earliest photograph in the collection is a daguerreotype of the Pont Neuf in Paris attributed to Vincent Chevalier, one of the few surviving examples of photography made shortly after the medium was introduced to the public in 1839. Since then, photography has been collected by each of the institutions that came together to form PEM. The collection has grown to encompass works by pioneering photographers William Henry Fox Talbot, Southworth & Hawes and Antoine Claudet. The depth of the collection is truly extraordinary and includes major archives such as those of Edwin Hale Lincoln, Lala Deen Dayal, and Samuel Chamberlain, the complete set of exhibition prints for Edward S. Curtis’ North American Indian portfolio, modernist works by Walker Evans, more than 200 rare Civil War photographs by the studio of Mathew Brady, and several thousand photographs made in East, South, and Southeast Asia and Oceania. Recent acquisitions include bodies of work by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lois Conner, Harold Eugene Edgerton, Tony Gleaton, Liu Zheng, Will Wilson, Danny Lyon, Sally Mann, Wang Qingsong, and prominent New England-based photographers Nicholas Nixon and Olivia Parker, as well as examples by contemporary photographers Ayana Jackson Binh Danh, and Toshiko Okanoue. 

ABOUT THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM
Over the last 20 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, it is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming, and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present, and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. The museum’s collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time — including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, Native American, Oceanic, and African art, as well as one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts. PEM’s campus offers a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities, and performance spaces. Twenty-two noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. HOURS: Open Thursdays–Sundays and holiday Mondays, 10 am–5 pm, and Fridays 10 am–7 pm. ADMISSION: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12. Members, youth 16 and under, and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission. INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit pem.org.


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