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  • Oct 04, 2016

Thomas J. Berghuis Steps Down as Director of Indonesia’s First International Contemporary Art Museum

Thomas J. Berghuis. Photo: Kris McKay. © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.

On October 4, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara, more widely known as Museum MACAN, made the surprise announcement that Thomas J. Berghuis has chosen to step down as museum director to return to academic and curatorial endeavors. The news was sent out in a letter to friends of Museum MACAN, which stated, “We are grateful to Thomas for helping us to establish the museum’s curatorial vision and organizational structure, and he will continue to provide counsel to the museum until the new director has been appointed.”

Previous to his appointment as Museum MACAN’s first director, Berghuis, a scholar in Asian art, was the first Robert HN Ho Family Foundation curator of Chinese art at the Guggenheim Museum in New York from 2013–2015. During his time in New York he curated one exhibition, “Wang Jianwei: Time Temple.” After leaving the Guggenheim, he was hired by Indonesian businessman and art collector Haryanto Adikoesoemo, who owns Museum MACAN.

Museum MACAN, which is being hailed as Indonesia’s first international private modern art museum, will house Adikoesoemo’s private collection comprised of modern Indonesian masters, such as Affandi, as well as international contemporary blue chip names, including Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons and Frank Stella.

It remains unknown if Berghuis’ departure will cause any setback in the opening of Museum MACAN, which has been in the works since 2013. However, the letter sent by the museum emphasized that an international search for a new director is already underway and that the institution has the support of two additional curators, Charles Esche—the long-time director of Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands and more recently the head curator of the 2015 Jakarta Biennale—and local curator Agung Hujatnika.

Museum MACAN is still under construction, but is due to open its 43,000-square-foot-space in early 2017.

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