SJMA Appoints Holly Shen Deputy Director

Release date 
Friday, September 28, 2018

Holly Shen, Deputy Director​

For Immediate Release

SAN JOSÉ, California (September 17, 2018)—After a national search, the San José Museum of Art has appointed Holly Shen as deputy director. Shen comes from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where she produced exhibitions, public programming, and performances, and oversaw all visual arts activity. During her 5-year tenure as director and curator of visual arts at BAM, she helped launch a new public art initiative, funded by a major grant from the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, and organized successful interdisciplinary programs, including Do What I Want, the first-ever archival exhibition on the life and work of musical luminary Arthur Russell. In 2018, Shen was named a Catherine Hannah Behrend Fellow, as part of 92nd Street Y's Women in Power Fellowship program.

In the newly defined role of deputy director, Shen will be a part of the senior management team directing the implementation of the new strategic plan, to be presented and approved by the Board of Trustees in fall 2018. She will support the curatorial team; and her direct reports will include the new Manager of Interactive Technology position, funded by the Knight Foundation; and the design, operations, and collection management departments. Working cross-departmentally, Shen will uphold new strategic directions to build collaboration internally, and strengthen the Museum’s goals to commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion for a healthy internal and external culture.  

“I am delighted to welcome Holly Shen to our staff,” said Susan Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director of SJMA. “She will bring a fresh perspective to our expanding horizons, high level experience in fund development, and solid achievements working in the cultural sphere with art and artists. Our talented curatorial team and devoted colleagues across departments will benefit from Holly’s ideas and digital acumen.” 

In 2016 Shen co-founded Forward Union, a new coalition-building initiative connecting social justice organizations with artists and creative communities. Shen has also been a faculty member at Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, in the graduate program for Art Market Studies. Previous positions include serving as curator for the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Ambulatory Care division; curatorial liaison for Artsy; and registrar at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where she first started her career. She holds a BA in art history from Georgetown University and an MA in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.  

"I am thrilled to join the San José Museum of Art during an exciting time of growth for the Museum and the City of San José,” said Shen. “I look forward to supporting SJMA’s compelling exhibitions program and advancing a number of initiatives that look to expand and share the Museum’s resources with a wide audience."​

Shen will join SJMA’s staff November 1, and work closely with the executive director and senior team to hone and expand the Museum’s strategic intent to become a borderless museum—essential to creative life throughout the diverse communities of San Jose and Silicon Valley.