Museum MACAN will open in March 2017 with an exhibition of works from its collection.
Aaron Seeto will lead the museum’s vision for arts education, cultural exchange and international partnerships.
On 10 November 2016 the board of trustees of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN) announced the appointment of Aaron Seeto as Director of the museum. Seeto has previously worked as Director of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney and most recently was the Curatorial Manager of Asian and Pacific Art at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in Brisbane for the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8).
Museum MACAN, founded by Indonesian philanthropist and art collector Haryanto Adikoesoemo, is Indonesia’s first major museum for international modern and contemporary art in Indonesia. The museum is based in Jakarta and aims to connect to other cultural hubs across Indonesia including Yogyakarta, Bandung and Bali. Over more than 25 years Adikoesoemo has developed a modern and contemporary art collection of over 800 artworks, which is now the basis for Museum MACAN’s permanent collection. Approximately 40 per cent of the current collection consists of artworks from Indonesia, while the rest originates from Europe, North America, China and other parts of Asia.
Since its announcement in January 2016, Museum MACAN’s vision has sought to foster cross-cultural exchange by exhibiting contemporary Indonesian artists alongside their international counterparts. This focus on international collaboration is what Adikosoemo highlighted in the announcement of Seeto as incoming director:
Aaron has dedicated over 15 years to working with artists and communities to foster intercultural dialogue through thoughtful engagement with contemporary art, a key component of Museum MACAN’s mission…He has an outstanding track record of international collaboration and mounting groundbreaking exhibitions that speak to the heart and spirit of an institution, and we could not be more thrilled to welcome him as our new Director. He will bring invaluable leadership and insight to our museum at this exciting time in our development.
Seeto pointed out his interest in the priorities of arts education, cultural exchange and international partnerships in his statement about the position:
I am excited to be joining Museum MACAN at this pivotal moment. Indonesia has an important role to play in the development of a vibrant environment for art in Southeast Asia— to not only nurture understanding of its artists, but also to create viable networks between the region and the world…Haryanto is deeply dedicated to providing Indonesia with an institution that prioritises arts education, cultural exchange and international partnerships, so I am honored to have the opportunity to help make his vision a reality. I’m looking forward to working with MACAN’s talented and energetic team to launch Indonesia’s first major contemporary art museum.
This announcement comes shortly after the stepping down of Foundational Director and scholar in Asian art Thomas Berghuis in early October 2016. It was stated that Berghuis would return to academic and curatorial pursuits, but that he would stay until the appointment of the next director. While ArtAsiaPacific wondered whether this change in leadership would create a setback in the scheduled opening of the museum, it seems that Museum MACAN’s opening is still set for March 2017.
The museum Board also announced the first exhibition to be co-curated by Charles Esche (the head curator of the 2015 Jakarta Biennale) and Agung Hujatnika. The exhibition, including work from the 19th century until today and Indonesian as well as international artists, brings together 90 works from Adikoesoemo’s collection. It will represent a number of art tendencies across Indonesia as well as presenting modern art from North America, China, Japan, Korea and Europe. There will be a series of contemporary installations and new commissions by Indonesian and international artists.
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