Judith Stoikov and her husband, Richard Miller, at the Johnson Museum in 2018.

A significant gift from Judith Stoikov ’63 will endow the Judith H. Stoikov Curator of Asian Art position and establish the largest endowed curatorial fund at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

The new position will expand the museum’s teaching and research capabilities for generations.

“By endowing this position, I take comfort in knowing that Asian art always has a place of honor at Cornell and at the Johnson Museum,” Stoikov said. “Not only is this collection the great strength of the museum, but it is enlivened year after year through remarkable exhibitions, teaching and programming. With Cornell in my own backyard, I have had the pleasure of seeing this impact on our communities firsthand and understanding the importance of funding positions such as this one.”

After graduating from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Stoikov went on to earn her Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. After a successful career as a labor economist, she retired from PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1999 and has lived in Ithaca since 2000.

Stoikov is the collections chair of the Johnson’s Museum Advisory Council, where she has been a member since 2015. She has pursued a passionate interest in Chinese art history through courses at Cornell, Christie’s and the China Institute – and channeled this interest into the future of the Johnson.

“Judith’s extraordinary generosity recognizes the Johnson as one of the leading Asian art collections in the United States, distinguished from others for its curatorial oversight and commitment to teaching,” said Jessica Levin Martinez, the Richard J. Schwartz Director of the Johnson Museum. “We are truly fortunate to have a donor like Judith who sees the value of the museum as a member of our local community and who also joins us in thinking globally to ensure that we can offer the same level of excellence now and long into the future.”

Over the course of a more than two-decade friendship with the museum, Stoikov has helped to build the Johnson’s Asian art collection, which comprises more than 10,000 works, into one that is outstanding among university museums.

Through her generosity, the museum has added traditional ceramics from Persia, China, Vietnam and Japan; paintings and calligraphy from China, Japan and Korea that date from the 12th to 19th centuries; and contemporary Japanese works. Stoikov is also an active supporter of the Johnson’s exhibitions and programs, supporting exhibitions such as “Moon” in 2018, and championing public programs with her endowment of the Annual Stoikov Lecture on Asian Art, which brings leading artists and international scholars to Cornell to present their work and research to the campus community.

Stoikov’s gift also helps build the foundation for the museum’s plans to develop and endow a Center for the Study of Asian Art – a place where curators can convene students and faculty, contemporary artists, and scholars to utilize the Johnson’s collections as a springboard for new research.

Ellen Avril, chief curator at the Johnson and the inaugural Judith H. Stoikov Curator of Asian Art, will continue to oversee the development of the Johnson’s collection, develop exhibitions and publications, and train graduate students in curatorial practice. She will also continue to integrate Asian art across Cornell’s curriculum and work collaboratively with faculty in the History of Art and Visual Studies Department, and with Cornell’s East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia programs.

“One of the greatest pleasures of my career has been knowing and working with Judith,” Avril said. “Her investment, insight and enthusiasm, right from the beginning, has truly advanced the Johnson Museum’s exceptional Asian art collection, deepening its relevance to students’ educational experience and as a source of inspiration to visitors.”

Written by Leslie Sellers, the graduate development associate for the Johnson Museum of Art and an MBA candidate and Forte Fellow at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. This story first appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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