The Crow Museum of Asian Art of The University of Texas at Dallas has found its new curator. Natalia Di Pietrantonio, Ph.D., hails from the Seattle Art Museum and was selected after a nationwide search.
There, she served as inaugural curator of South Asian art, caring for the museum’s South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Islamic art collections while also serving as an affiliate art history faculty member at the University of Washington.
Di Pietrantonio arrives just as the Crow Museum is preparing to debut a second museum next fall.
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.
Over 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 guide the 10,000 square feet of gallery space at the original Crow Museum, which was founded in 1998 and is in the downtown Dallas Arts District.
In addition, Di Pietrantonio will serve as a faculty member in the arts department at UT Dallas.
“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,” says 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, a release says that “Di Pietrantonio brings over 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.”
From 2014-15, 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.
At the Seattle Art Museum, she harnessed her expertise of 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 their South Asian collection by 25 percent. She also was the lead curator on the mid-career retrospective of the performance artist Anida Y. Ali that debuts in January 2024.
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,” says 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.”
In 2018, Di Pietrantonio 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.