The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art welcomes Isha Ambani, Carolyn Brehm and Peter Kimmelman as new members of its board of trustees. The Smithsonian’s Board of Regents approved their appointment for four-year terms each, effective Sept. 23, 2021. The 17-member Board of Regents, consisting of the Chief Justice of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, three members of the United States Senate, three members of the United States House of Representatives, and nine citizens, is responsible for the administration of the Smithsonian.
In addition to these new appointments, Antoine van Agtmael’s tenure as chair of the museum’s board of trustees was extended through October 2023. Dr. Vijay Anand was named vice chair of the board and Ambassador Pamela H. Smith was appointed secretary of the board.
The National Museum of Asian Art (asia.si.edu) was the Smithsonian’s first dedicated art museum and the first art museum on the National Mall. Since opening its doors as the Freer Gallery of Art in 1923, it has acquired an international reputation for excellence by virtue of its extraordinary collection and its century-long tradition of exhibitions, research, art conservation and conservation science. The new and returning appointees to the board come to the museum as it prepares for its centennial in 2023—a milestone celebration and a springboard for the museum’s transformative vision for its next century, which will broaden and deepen the museum’s impact and reach, both onsite and online.
“On behalf of my colleagues at the museum and across the Smithsonian, I am delighted to welcome thesedistinguished new members to our board and to congratulate our officers on their election,” said Chase F.Robinson, the museum’s Dame Jillian Sackler Director. “All art museums face the challenge of responding toa quickly evolving cultural landscape, such as new expectations on the part of the public and increasing financial pressures. For a museum devoted to the arts and cultures of Asia, particularly in what is often regarded as the Asian century, there are special opportunities and responsibilities. As we mark our centennial in 2023, the vision and passion of these talented new members and officers will accelerate our efforts to make our collections and expertise more accessible and compelling, to expand our collection, and to join others in understanding and celebrating Asian arts and cultures. Our board is larger and more diverse than it’s ever been. I look forward to working with trustees and extend my gratitude for their service.”
On behalf of the board, van Agtmael said, “As chair of the board of trustees, I am delighted to welcome our new and returning members who bring both expertise and further diversity to our board.”
About the New Members
Isha Ambani is a Director of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (Jio), a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, headquartered in Mumbai, that owns businesses across India engaged in energy, petrochemicals, textiles, retail and digital services. After observing slow Internet speeds at home in 2011, she led, in 2016, the launch of Jio, which built an all-IP, all-4G wireless telecommunications services from the ground up ushering a digital revolution in India. She helped it become one of the leading mobile data markets in the world; Jio is today India’s largest mobile network operator with over 440 million subscribers. Recently, Ambani was one of the lead negotiators in multiple transactions that led to over $20bn in global equity capital flowing into Jio Platforms Ltd., including a $5.7 bn deal with Facebook. Ambani manages the branding customer experience and marketing of Reliance Retail and Jio. She was also the force behind the launch of fashion portal Ajio.com and oversees the ecommerce venture JioMart that aims to bring the power of ecommerce to small and medium businesses. She also serves as the Director of Reliance Foundation, India’s largest Foundation. Reliance Foundation, among other things, seeks to protect and promote India’s cultural heritage, elevate Indian art and bring global art to India. Committed to the democratization of access to art, Ambani has a deep love for Indian art and a passion to bring that art to new audiences. She has degrees from Yale University and Stanford University and worked as a business analyst at McKinsey & Company in New York.