Adjunct Associate Research Scholar
BA: Bryn Mawr College
MA: University of Pennsylvania
PhD: University of Pennsylvania (’04)
Dr. Hsu-Tang is Distinguished Consulting Scholar to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania; she is also the Executive Chair of the Art Triennial of Asia In New York, 2020.
Agnes is an international cultural heritage policy advisor trained in art history and archaeology. 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 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 the United States Cultural Property Advisory Committee on the renewal of the bilateral agreement with China to reduce the illicit trafficking of cultural objects. Prior to graduate school, Agnes was the special assistant to James R. Lilley in Washington D.C., who had served as the US ambassador to China (1989-91) and Korea (1986-89).
Agnes studied English Literature, Classical and Near Art and Archaeology, and East Asian Studies at Bryn Mawr. She was a Mellon Fellow at the Needham Research Institute at Cambridge University in 2003 and received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004. She taught at Brown University from 2004 to 2007 and was a post-doctoral scholar at Stanford University from 2007 to 2008. She joined Columbia University in 2015.
Between 2008 and 2015, Agnes helped develop several film projects on art and archaeology. She is the bi-lingual host and narrator of two award-winning documentary series: a 3-episode archaeology series, Mysteries of China, on History Channel Asia (2011-2013), and a 4-episode contemporary art series, Chineseness, 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).
Her recent scholarly contributions include two exhibitions, “Chinese in America: Exclusion/Inclusion” at the New-York Historical Society (2014-15 in NYC, permanently at the Chinese Historical Society of America in San Francisco), and “China’s Lost Civilization: The Mystery of Sanxingdui” at the Bowers Museum (2014-15). She also contributed to the dramaturgy and translation of a new opera in Classical Chinese, Paradise Interrupted, which premiered at the 2015 Spoleto USA and 2016 Lincoln Center Festival. First 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, the executive board of the Tang Center for Silk Road Studies at UC Berkeley, and an advisory council at the Institute of International Education. She served on the boards of 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, where she chairs the Exhibitions Committee and serves on the Executive and Strategic Planning Committees. In 2018, she received the Society’s Medal of Merit for Public Engagement. Agnes is also a Managing Director on the board of the Metropolitan Opera.
“A Tomb with A View: Axonometry and Concept of Domain in Early Chinese Cartography” (forthcoming)
“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, 2009)
“An Emic Perspective of the Ancient Mapmaker’s Art” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Cambridge, 2007)
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 (UNESCO, 2006)