Aric Chen tapped to lead the Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam

Heading To Holland

Aric Chen tapped to lead the Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam

Aric Chen (Yoha Jin)

Curator, educator, and former AN columnist Aric Chen is once again moving on to bigger and better things. This morning, the Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam announced that it has named Chen the museum’s next General and Artistic Director.

The Het Nieuwe Instituut is a fairly new institution in the heart of the Dutch city, founded in 2013 as a state-mandated consolidation of three of the city’s other architecture, design, and digital culture museums into a single building. As such, the institute’s expertise is accordingly vast, spanning everything from urban planning to the value of culture to net art.

When reached for comment, Chen told AN that, “I’ve been enthusiastically watching Het Nieuwe Instituut over the years as it has rethought definitions not just of architecture, design, and digital culture, but also of what an institute can be. I’m really excited to build on that, with my incredible new colleagues, and see how we can contribute to addressing the urgent questions about our pasts, presents, and futures and the role design plays in them.”

According to the museum, Chen will start on May 1 remotely, before moving to Rotterdam to take over in-person on September 1; he replaces current General and Artistic Director Guus Beumer, who will retire. Chen will also join the Board of Directors.

Exterior of a glassy box building with scaffolding and purple flags
The current home of the Het Nieuwe Instituut (Petra van der Ree)

At first glance, Chen is a good fit for such an interdisciplinary institution; from 2012 to 2018, he served as the lead curator for design and architecture at the now-open M+ in Hong Kong (before transitioning to curator-at-large). Chen is currently the curatorial director of the three international Design Miami fairs in Basel, Switzerland, and the home base of Miami, as well as a professor and founding director of the Curatorial Lab at the College of Design & Innovation at Tongji University in Shanghai. In 2011 and 2012, he acted as the curatorial director of Beijing Design Week, helping relaunch the festival. All that is to say, the intersection of education, curation, and the overlap between “old” and “new” media are something Chen is intimately familiar with and will likely bring to the museum moving forward.

Het Nieuwe Instituut managing director Josien Paulides said in a statement, “Since its establishment in 2013 and thanks to the leadership of Guus Beumer, Het Nieuwe Instituut has built a solid foundation and developed an innovative interdisciplinary working way. Earlier this year, it was rewarded with the status of a national heritage institution, with a positively received policy plan. This plan provides the framework for interweaving the institute’s working method and continuing to develop a socially critical program based on knowledge about the national collection for architecture and urban planning. With this strong footing, we look forward to the exciting new directions ahead of us with Aric Chen.”

The Het Nieuwe Instituut is currently closed to the public until April 20 due to a COVID lockdown.