2014 / Huntington Library names a scholar from Australia as new curator of the Chinese garden

Forwarded for The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

September 11, 2014

Huntington Chinese garden curator Duncan M. Campbell

Duncan M. Campbell

Duncan Campbell joins Huntington staff as Curator and Director of the new Center for East Asian Garden Studies

SAN MARINO, Calif.—The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens has named Duncan M. Campbell, former professor of Chinese studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, as the new June and Simon K.C. Li Director of the Center for East Asian Garden Studies and Curator of the Chinese Garden.

Campbell takes the helm from the garden’s founding curator, June Li, who stepped down July 31 after a decade at The Huntington. June and her husband, Simon, who is an Overseer at The Huntington, recently gave a $2 million gift to endow the new center’s directorship and the curatorial position; she will continue on as curator emerita in program development and in organizing exhibitions.

Campbell, a native of New Zealand, has spent substantial time in China, and is fluent in both written and spoken Chinese. His research interests include Chinese literary and material culture of the late imperial period (1500 to 1900) with a special emphasis on the history of the traditional Chinese garden and the library within the garden during that time.

Campbell has deep expertise in translating classical Chinese into English. He has had substantial experience in university teaching on China, and has worked on exhibitions with China in Australia and New Zealand.

“Duncan comes on at a very auspicious time,” said James Folsom, Telleen-Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens at The Huntington.

“As we expand into a full-fledged Center for the Study of East Asian Gardens, his expertise will be essential in directing and developing our series of lectures, music offerings, research conferences, and other cultural events.”

Campbell was a guest speaker at The Huntington in 2009, presenting at a conference on “Poetry and Textual Memory in the Chinese Garden.”

In fact, The Huntington has for years been hosting lectures, conferences, symposia, performances, and a variety of other activities under Li’s direction, focusing on East Asian garden traditions.

The formal establishment of a program puts in place a structure that could lead to research fellowships and international exchanges, and other expanded opportunities, said Folsom.

In his last post, Campbell was a senior lecturer in Chinese at the Australian National University where he also served as acting head of the Department of Chinese Studies in the College of Asia and the Pacific.

Before that, from 1992−2008, Campbell was a senior lecturer at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, where he founded the Department of Asian Languages.

“June Li’s shoes will be difficult to fill, as she has moved the garden forward from vision to reality,” said Campbell. “She also established a wonderful slate of activities on which to build. I look forward to taking her dream forward. We know that the Chinese Garden at The Huntington provides endless opportunities to engage cross-culturally in ways that transcend political and regional differences. Here’s where I think I can continue to enhance the program and have a tremendous amount of fun.”

Says Li: “To have been here when the project was just getting under way, and then to see today what it has become, has been nothing short of extraordinary. I am thrilled for Duncan and for the future of the garden and the many wonderful things to come.”

Campbell will present his first talk at The Huntington on Nov. 18: “Book Rituals: Book Collecting During an Age of Great Prosperity.”

The lecture, at 7:30 p.m. in the Huntington’s Ahmanson Room, explores the life of the Suzhou bibliophile Huang Peilie (1765–1825), one of the greatest book collectors of the Qianlong (1736–1795) and Jiaqing (1796–1820) periods.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public.

More information about The Huntington can be found online at huntington.org.

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