SAN MARINO, Calif. – Phillip E. Bloom has been named the new curator of the Chinese Garden and Director of the Center for East Asian Garden Studies at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. The appointment was made official today, according to James Folsom, the Telleen/Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens. Bloom joins The Huntington staff Sept. 1.
“Phillip’s grounding in Chinese art and architecture, paired with his museum experience, has prepared him extremely well to think deeply about the role our Chinese Garden plays in the visitor and scholar experience at The Huntington and to further develop the East Asian garden programs here,” said Folsom.
The Huntington’s Chinese Garden, known as the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, or Liu Fang Yuan 流芳園, was inspired by the 16th-century scholars’ gardens of Suzhou, China. It is one of the largest classical-style Chinese gardens outside of China, and has been the focal point of numerous cultural, educational, and scholarly programs since its debut in 2008.
Bloom, most recently assistant professor of East Asian art at Indiana University, holds his Ph.D. from Harvard University in the history of art and architecture, specializing in the visual culture of China’s Song dynasty (960–1279). He holds his MA from Harvard as well, and his BA from Middlebury College in art and architecture history and French. At Harvard, he also served as research assistant for the Harvard Art Museums and worked for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis. His museum experience also includes an internship at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai.
“I see the convergence of my background and this position at The Huntington as a tremendous opportunity to foster public interest in East Asia and promote cross-cultural dialogue,” said Bloom. “The Chinese Garden at The Huntington has the potential to profoundly shift the experience of visitors by engaging them in a variety of ways – through social ritual, theatrical performance, and beyond. I am eager to help develop a full slate of public exhibitions, programs, and scholarly symposia that foster new narratives about East Asian garden culture.”
Bloom’s scholarship has focused heavily on Chinese Buddhist art. He has specialized in medieval Chinese painting and sculpture, with published articles in leading journals and edited volumes in the United States, China, Taiwan, and Japan. The garden in Chinese history has been central to his teaching and has inspired his thinking about the opportunities at The Huntington. “The garden as a ritual space, the sensory dimensions of the garden, the connection between gardens and Chinese medicine – these are but a few of the exciting possibilities that I hope to explore in exhibitions and scholarly lectures and symposia,” said Bloom. “I can’t wait to get started.”
Bloom succeeds Duncan Campbell, who served as curator from 2014-2016; the garden’s founding curator is June Li, who served in that capacity from 2004-2014. Li continues to be an adviser, as well as a donor (along with her husband, Huntington Overseer Simon Li), to the garden.
Drawing on The Huntington’s renowned Chinese and Japanese gardens as a foundation, The Huntington’s Center for East Asian Garden Studiespromotes understanding of garden traditions by offering a full program of lectures, workshops, symposia, exhibitions, and performances.