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  • Nov 24, 2015

Konrad Ng Appointed Executive Director of Shangri La center in Honolulu

Konrad Ng, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (SAPAC), speaking at the opening reception for the

On November 9, following a nationwide search, the New York-based Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) announced Konrad Ng as the new executive director of Shangri La, a center for the study of Islamic arts and cultures, located in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Ng, a scholar, curator and arts administrator who has deep ties with Hawai‘i, has been serving as the director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, since 2011.

In a press release announcing Ng’s appointment, DDCF President Ed Henry stated: “Konrad is well poised to contribute to the global conversation about Islamic arts and cultures and, more broadly, human creativity as a means for increasing knowledge and understanding across our complex society. His experience at the Smithsonian and within Hawai‘i will further enrich the unique dialogue that is stimulated by the important collections and beauty of Shangri La.”

Shangri La, a 14,000-square-foot Islamic-styled mansion, was built in the 1930s for the late American tobacco heiress Doris Duke (1912–1993). The center’s buildings, courtyards and landscaped gardens are heavily inspired by traditional Islamic design elements. Duke was an avid collector of Islamic arts, and her collection of roughly 3,500 pieces is now primarily kept at Shangri La, which during her lifetime served as one of her seasonal homes. Today it is operated by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (which in turn is governed and supported by the DDCF), whose mission is to promote Islamic arts and cultures locally and abroad. Shangri La has been open to the public as a museum since 2002 and—in addition to offering guided tours, publishing catalogues on the exhibited works, showcasing pieces from the collection, and arranging traveling exhibitions and a robust lineup of public programs that are held both on and off-site—it also runs a renowned residency program in Honolulu for contemporary artists as well as for scholars of Islamic art. Notable former artists-in-residence include Walid Raad, Hasan Elahi, Shezad Dawood and Shahzia Sikander, among others.

“I am honored to have been chosen to lead Shangri La and help advance the work of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Shangri La is an extraordinary part of Hawai‘i’s art and design landscape,” said Ng in the press release announcing his appointment. “It is a privilege to have the chance to build on the incredible work done by Shangri La’s staff, volunteers and partners. I look forward to working with the team and with the community at large to further local, national and global dialogues about creativity and culture,” he added.

During his tenure as director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Ng’s notable accomplishments included leading the production of collaborative exhibitions, public programs and digital initiatives about Asian-Pacific American history, art and culture. Prior to his position at the Smithsonian, Ng was an assistant professor at the Academy for Creative Media, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where he taught and researched the critical and cultural study of cinema and digital media.