Orianna Cacchione to Join AD&A Museum as Assistant Director

Photo credit: Wei Weng


(Santa Barbara, CA)—The Art, Design & Architecture Museum (AD&A Museum) at UC Santa Barbara is pleased to announce the hire of Dr. Orianna Cacchione as the museum’s new Assistant Director. A specialist in contemporary Chinese art, and the Curator of Global Contemporary Art at the Smart Museum of Art for the past six years, Cacchione brings a wealth of curatorial expertise, teaching experience, and creativity to her new role at UCSB. As the Assistant Director, Cacchione will work collaboratively with AD&A Museum Director, Dr. Gabriel Ritter, to provide strategic leadership, oversight and management of multiple departments at the Museum. In her new role, Orianna will develop and implement a roster of exhibitions and educational programs which explore issues in art, architecture and design that relate to the broader teaching goals of the University. Cacchione will begin her new position at UCSB on May 1.

 “Orianna is a scholar, educator, and advocate who is passionate about art and its role in collegiate and community life. Given her academic rigor and curatorial curiosity, I am extremely excited to have Orianna join the museum’s senior leadership,” said Ritter.  

Speaking about her new role, Cacchione commented, “I am honored to join the Art, Design & Architecture Museum as it celebrates the 60th anniversary of its pioneering Design and Architecture collection. The Museum has long been a center for research and a space for ambitious exhibitions that engage the Museum’s diverse collection and position art and architecture from California in global dialogues. Working in partnership with Gabe, the Museum’s extraordinary team, and UCSB faculty and students, we have the opportunity to collectively build upon this history and to think experimentally about the unique role art museums can play in the intellectual life of a campus and its surrounding community.”

Since 2017, Orianna has been Curator of Global Contemporary Art at the Smart Museum of Art and a lecturer in the Department of Art History at University of Chicago since 2018. Her curatorial practice is committed to expanding the canon of contemporary art to respond to the global circulations of art and ideas. At the Smart Museum, she recently curated the major exhibition, Monochrome Multitudes (2022)(with Christine Mehring) to reconsider the “monochrome” materially, conceptually, and globally. She has curated the exhibitions, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China (2019-2020)(with Wu Hung), which interrogated how materiality informs contemporary Chinese art; Samson Young: Silver moon or golden star, which will buy of me? (2019), the first museum exhibition of the Hong Kong-based sound artist in the United States; and Tang Chang: The Painting that Is Painted with Poetry Is Profoundly Beautiful (2018), the first solo presentation of the pioneering abstract artist’s work outside of Thailand.

Prior to joining the Smart Museum, Cacchione was Curatorial Fellow for East Asian Contemporary Art in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was responsible for expanding the museum’s collection of contemporary art from East Asia. Her work led to transformative acquisitions of artworks from China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand. She also curated the exhibition, Zhang Peili: Record. Repeat. (2017), the first major presentation of the Chinese video artist at an American museum. 

A specialist in contemporary Chinese art, Cacchione holds a Ph.D in Art History, Theory and Criticism from the University of California, San Diego. Her scholarly research explores the transnational, cross-geographic flows of art and art history that characterize the global art world. Her writing has been published in Les Cahiers du musée national d’art modern, The Journal of Art HistoriographyYishu, and the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art. She has presented her research at the Hammer Museum, Centre Pompidou, the Guggenheim Museum, OCAT Xi’an, the Asia Society Hong Kong, the College Art Association, Freie University, Academia Sinica, the Association of Asian Studies, and the World History Association. She has taught art history courses at the University of Chicago; the University of California, San Diego; and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 



The AD&A Museum at the University of California Santa Barbara is both a teaching museum, committed to the development of critical thinking and visual literacy in support of the University’s goals of education, research and service, and a resource for the wider Santa Barbara Community. Its mission is to stimulate research, support artistic practice, and generate original programming through the Museum’s collections. These include the Architecture and Design Collection, one of the most relevant architectural archives in North America, focused on the development of modern architecture in Southern California, and an encyclopedic art collection, with holdings ranging from the Ancient Americas to today. 

 Admission to all exhibitions and programs at the AD&A Museum is free, unless otherwise noted. Wednesday-Sunday: 12pm to 5pm. Located at University of California, Santa Barbara, 552 University Road, Santa Barbara, CA. On campus parking is $8 for the full day. Visit www.museum.ucsb.edu for details or call 805-893-2951.