Adjunct Senior Research Scholar
BA: Bryn Mawr College
MA: University of Pennsylvania
PhD: University of Pennsylvania (’04)
Dr. Hsu-Tang is Chair of the board of the New-York Historical Society, the first museum in New York and one of the oldest cultural institutions in the United States that was established in 1804. Agnes is a co-founder of the Tang Center for Early China at Columbia University, Tang Center for Silk Road Studies at UC Berkeley, and Hsu-Tang Library for Classical Chinese Literature at Oxford University Press. In 2018, Dr. Hsu-Tang was appointed Distinguished Consulting Scholar at University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Dr. Hsu-Tang is an international cultural heritage policy advisor trained in archaeology and art history. From 2006 to 2013, Agnes served on UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s scientific committees and participated on three missions to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Western China; she spoke at international conferences on cultural heritage protection and authored a white paper on the multi-national nominations of the Qhapag Ñan and the Continental Silk Road (Chang’an to Tianshan Corridor). From 2013 to 2014, Agnes advised President Obama’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee on the renewal of United States’ 2009 bilateral agreement with China to reduce the illicit trafficking of cultural objects. Prior to graduate studies, Agnes served under the late U.S. Ambassador James R. Lilley, a former envoy to China, Korea, and Taiwan.
Agnes studied English Literature, Classical Archaeology, and East Asian Studies at Bryn Mawr College. In 2003, she was a Mellon fellow in History of Science at the Needham Research Institute at Cambridge University; she received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004. Agnes taught at Brown University from 2004 to 2007 and was a post-doctoral scholar in Classics at Stanford University from 2007 to 2008. She joined Columbia University in 2015.
Between 2008 and 2015, Agnes was actively involved in the development of several international film projects on art and archaeology. She was the bi-lingual host and narrator of two award-winning documentary series: Mysteries of China, a 3-episode archaeology series on History Channel Asia (2011-2013), and Chineseness, a 4-episode contemporary art series on Discovery Channel Asia (2014-2015) that premiered during 2014 Art Basel Hong Kong. Her previous TV credits include “The Giant Buddha at Leshan” (2009) and “Xi’an: China’s Forgotten City” (2010) on Discovery USA, “China’s Terracotta Warriors” on PBS (2011), and Mankind: The Story of All of Us series on History Channel (2012). She is currently involved in the development of a feature film relevant to archaeology.
In addition to publications and lectures, Dr. Hsu-Tang’s recent scholarly contributions include four exhibitions: “Chinese in America: Exclusion/Inclusion” at the New-York Historical Society (2014-15), “China’s Lost Civilization: The Mystery of Sanxingdui” at the Bowers Museum (2014-15), Asia Society inaugural Triennial “We Do Not Dream Alone” (2020-21), and the New-York Historical Society’s “Dreaming Together” (2020-21). Agnes also contributed to the dramaturgy and libretto of a contemporary opera, Paradise Interrupted, which premiered at the 2015 Spoleto Festival USA and 2016 Lincoln Center Festival. Formerly trained as a Classical musician, Dr. Hsu-Tang made her debut at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1989.
Dr. Hsu-Tang serves on the Director’s Council at the Institute of the Study of the Ancient World at New York University and is a founding advisory board member of the Artist Protection Fund at the Institute of International Education. Agnes served on the boards of the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (2013-2018) and the Peabody Institute of Archaeology at Phillips Academy Andover (2015-2018).
Agnes has been a Trustee of the New-York Historical Society since 2013, where she has chaired the Exhibitions Committee and served on the Executive and Strategic Planning Committees since 2015. Agnes was a Managing Director on the board of the Metropolitan Opera from 2014 to July 2021; she served on the Met’s Oversight Committee from 2017 to 2018 and chaired the Board Recruitment Taskforce from 2018 to 2019 and the Nominating Committee from 2018 to 2020. In addition, Agnes was the Executive Chair and Chair of the Steering Committee of Asia Society’s inaugural Triennial from 2015 to 2020.
Dr. Hsu-Tang is a recipient of New-York Historical Society’s 2018 Medal of Merit for Public Engagement; Institute of International Education’s Centennial Medal in 2019; and Asia Society Hong Kong Center’s 2021 Maestro Award for co-founding The Yellow Whistle™ campaign to combat anti-Asian American violence and xenophobia.
“A Tomb with A View: Axonometry in Early Chinese Cartography” in Designing Boundaries: The Exercise of the Spatial Imagination in Pre-Modern China: Shaping the Expanse (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2022)
“Executive Chair’s Preface” and “Art of Virtue” in exhibition catalog We Do Not Dream Alone (Milan: Skira Editore SpA, 2021)
“Dreaming Together in a Divided World” in exhibition catalog Dreaming Together: New-York Historical Society and Asia Society (New York: New-York Historical Society, 2020)
“Structured Perceptions of Real and Imagined Landscapes in Early Imperial China” in Geography, Ethnography, and Perceptions of the World from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009)
“An Emic Perspective of the Ancient Mapmaker’s Art” in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
White paper: The Exceptional Universal Value of the Road Systems in Ancient Empires: A Comparative Study of the Chinese Oasis Route of the Early Silk Road and the Qhapag Ñan (Paris: UNESCO, 2006)