Chase Robinson
Under Secretary for Museums and Culture

Chase F. Robinson

Director, National Museum of Asian Art

Chase F. Robinson has been director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art since December 2018. During his tenure, the museum has launched initiatives that have increased the number of visitors on-site and online, expanded the collections by over 5,400 works, built out its network of community-based and international partnerships, established itself at the forefront of provenance research and nearly doubled the size of its board of trustees. The museum celebrated its centennial in May 2023, inaugurating its first celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

A highly regarded scholar of Islamic history and culture, Robinson previously served as provost (2008–2013) and president (2013–2018) of the Graduate Center, the research campus of the City University of New York. From 1993 to 2008, Robinson was a professor of early Islamic history in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford. He chaired its faculty board from 2003 to 2005. 

Robinson has authored or edited nine books and more than 40 articles that span the geographical and chronological breadth of the Islamic Middle East. They include A Medieval Islamic City Reconsidered: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Samarra (2001), Texts, Documents and Artefacts: Islamic Studies in Honour of D.S. Richards (2003) and the first volume of The New Cambridge History of Islam (2010). His book Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives: The First 1,000 Years (2016) was translated into several languages. The Works of lbn Wadih al-Ya'qubi: An English Translation (2017) is a three-volume set of translations of some of the earliest works of history and geography in Arabic.  

Robinson earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown University, having also studied at the American University in Cairo, the University of Cairo and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received his doctorate from Harvard University's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He is the general editor of Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization and a member of the editorial board of Past & Present. His editorials and commentaries have appeared in several magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times.

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