Sally-Yu Leung

International Advisor

A serendipitous visit to an unassuming Chinese antique shop in Hong Kong sparked my life-long passion in Chinese decorative arts. The item that ignited this interest was a beautiful yet mysterious hand-embroidered Qing Dynasty textile. This experience set me on a path to unravel the social and cultural stories behind traditional Chinese decorative objects that feature in textiles, gardens, accessories, furniture, and operatic performances. This journey has been a personal one too as it has allowed me to delve more deeply into my own Chinese cultural heritage as well as how this heritage is connected with other global cultures.

I am an author, researcher, and independent curator. I have organized 23 major exhibitions at museums, primarily in the United States and China. I have lectured internationally (America, China, Singapore and in the United Kingdom) on a variety of topics which include the customs and folklore behind the Chinese New Year, the evolution of the qipao and the hidden meanings in Chinese children’s clothing and accessories.

​At Pixar University, I worked as an instructor of Chinese culture, calligraphy and painting for 15 years. While at the Denver Botanical Gardens, I served as an instructor of Chinese brush art for 13 years. I spent over 30 years as a docent at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Since 2009, I have been the Cultural Ambassador and a former Commissioner for the Asian Art Museum. This role enables me to promote Asian traditional and contemporary arts to a wider and growing audience. In 2010, my book, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Children Clothing and Accessories, was published. ​

In 2012, I was honored to be inducted into the Chinese Ministry of Culture’s Hall of Fame for contributions to the protection and preservation of Chinese cultural heritage. I served as a board member at the Chinese American International School in San Francisco, and as the chief designer for the Interior Cultural Enhancement Project at the International School in Beijing. ​

I am a former Trustee of the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) and the Founder of the James Cahill Asian Arts Study Centre, which was established in 2016 at my alma mater, The University of California at Berkeley where I majored in Oriental Languages and Physiology. Until recently, I have also been involved with the Textile Arts Council of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as a board member.