Search is over for new curator

By Becky Mayad

After a national search, the Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas has named Natalia Di Pietrantonio, Ph.D., as the Museum’s new curator. Di Pietrantonio joins the Crow Museum from the Seattle Art Museum, where she served as inaugural curator of South Asian art, caring for their South Asian, Southeast Asian and Islamic art collections, while also serving as an affiliate art history faculty member at the University of Washington. 

Photo courtesy of Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas

Known for her creative and progressive leadership, Di Pietrantonio has garnered acclaim as an interdisciplinary art historian with expertise in global contemporary and historical Asian and Islamicate art. 

Di Pietrantonio arrives at a pivotal point as the Crow Museum prepares to debut as a second museum in fall 2024. Designed by global architecture firm Morphosis, the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Athenaeum is being constructed as part of a 12-acre cultural district on the UT Dallas campus. 

During the next year, the 38-year-old curator will work closely with architects, interior designers, academic faculty and museum staff to select the artworks that will be on view when the new museum opens its doors. She will also serve as a faculty member in the arts department at UT Dallas. 

In addition, she will guide the 10,000 square feet of gallery space at the original Crow Museum, which was founded in 1998 and will remain a vibrant component of the downtown Dallas Arts District. 

“Natalia brings a wonderful vision, a fresh and energetic perspective, and a proven track record in elevating Asian American art and culture in compelling ways,” said Amy Lewis Hofland, senior director of the Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas. “With her background in South Asian and Islamic art, she also will help build the Crow Museum of Asian Art collection, strengthening it to better reflect the growing diversity of our region.” 

A first-generation Mexican American whose first language was Spanish, Di Pietrantonio brings more than 10 years of professional and academic experience, ranging from highly lauded museum exhibitions and university cultural events to innovative collaborations and unique community outreach experiences. 

Throughout her career, she managed creative teams and cultivated a strong network of community advisors and art professionals. From 2014-2015, she served as a Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow for the Islamic department at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  She is multilingual and speaks Spanish, Persian, Urdu and English. 

“As we embark on this enthralling era of expansion for the Crow Museum of Asian Art and The University of Texas at Dallas, we are delighted that Natalia Di Pietrantonio will be leading the curatorial duties at both locations of the Crow Museum of Asian Art,” said Dr. Inga Musselman, provost and vice president for academic affairs for The University of Texas at Dallas. “Natalia’s leadership, expertise and desire to engage with students and the North Texas community will be a tremendous asset.” 

At the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), she harnessed her expertise in modern and contemporary art to curate two diverse exhibitions — Embodied Change: South Asian Art Across Time (January 2022), which focused on the body and female representations in South Asia, and Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water (March 2022), which addressed climate change and water access.

During her tenure at the Seattle Art Museum, she grew the South Asian collection at SAM by 25%. She also was the lead curator on the upcoming mid-career retrospective of the performance artist Anida Y. Ali (January 2024). 

Her passions include exploring the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) diaspora, spotlighting and mentoring BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) artists, and promoting issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. Recognizing that North Texas has one of the fastest growing Asian American populations in Texas, Di Pietrantonio is excited to pursue exhibitions and programs that are topical both locally and globally to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. 

She also intends to bring performance art into the cultural mix at the Crow Museum. 

“As the Crow Museum embarks on a new era with a second museum on the horizon, I am honored to be part of its storied history known for dynamic and innovative exhibitions and programs,” said Di Pietrantonio. “My first major goal is to learn more about the North Texas region — from UT Dallas students and museum supporters to neighborhood organizations and our increasingly diverse populations — so I can help align and tailor the museum programs for its communities.”

Before her stint at the SAM, Di Pietrantonio was Bard Graduate Center’s Visual Art and Material Culture postdoctoral fellow, having formerly served as a Consortium for Faculty Diversity fellow at Scripps College (Claremont Colleges). 

In 2018 she completed her Ph.D. in the history of art at Cornell University, studying under the contemporary artist Iftikhar Dadi with a focus on calligraphy and book arts. 

Prior to that time, she received a master’s degree in South Asian studies from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of California, Davis. It was during her years at UC Davis that a dynamic professor introduced her to Islamic art and ignited her interest. 

Raised in California, she is familiar with North Texas, having often visited relatives living in the region. She resides in Richardson with her husband.