Assistant Director, Publications and Education
The NYUAD Art Gallery is an intimate museum space in a university setting. Modelled on the academic museums of the US, the curatorial program explores locally relevant and internationally significant subjects. This model of scholarly, experimental, and non-commercial art exhibitions complements and enhances the region’s fast-growing cultural ecosystem.
A second venue, the Project Space, located in The Arts Center, is a vital part of the Gallery’s identity, serving as a laboratory for experimentation, with priority given to exhibitions from within the academic and regional community, including the annual Senior Capstone Festival, faculty-curated exhibitions, experimental projects, and the work of regional emerging artists.
In addition, the NYUAD Art Gallery department oversees the Campus art collection, and a number of special projects, such as the annual Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), under the Patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan.
The Gallery’s central museum space, auxiliary Project Space, and annual Christo Award are core catalysts for NYUAD as a locus of intellectual and creative activity, linking the university with the Abu Dhabi public and a worldwide community of artists, curators, and scholars. Supporting the progress made by other arts institutions within the UAE, the NYUAD Art Gallery and the projects its team oversee serve as a testing ground for new and innovative curatorial approaches that nourish the dialogue around exhibition practice in the Gulf.
Maya Allison is the Chief Curator at NYU Abu Dhabi and founding Executive Director of the NYUAD Art Gallery and Project Space. Her background is in academic museums: she curated her first major exhibitions at The RISD Museum (Rhode Island School of Design), then served as curator of the Bell Gallery (Brown University). She was also director of the city-wide, international new media showcase Pixilerations, and of the 5 Traverse Gallery, all in the US. She holds an MFA from Columbia University, a BA in art history from Reed College, and continued her research on curatorial practice via a fellowship at Brown University’s Center for Public Humanities.
Allison has curated numerous exhibitions at these and other institutions. Those for which she also developed book-length projects include Slavs and Tatars: Mirrors for Princes (JRP|Ringier, 2015), Diana Al-Hadid: Phantom Limb (Skira, 2016), and But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988-2008 (Akkadia Press, 2017), and Zimoun (Akkadia Press, 2019). Recently, she guest-curated Artists and the Cultural Foundation: The Early Years (2018, with publication) for the Cultural Foundation Abu Dhabi, a 30-year survey of 18 UAE artists. Allison is Curator of the UAE’s national pavilion to the Venice Biennale for 2022.
Kawader Research Fellow, Publications and Education