Suhanya Raffel is a cutting-edge Australian Museum Director. She works internationally to secure the history and recognition of artists across song, dance, art, literature, film, photography, design, architecture and ‘everything that is just good in the world’. Born in Sri Lanka, at 14 Ms Raffel moved to Australia with her family. After studying art history at the University of Sydney she worked at the Tate in the UK. She returned to spend 20 years forging her career in curatorial positions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, where she was instrumental in building the contemporary Asia Pacific collection and eventually rising to deputy director. Ms Raffel is known as an inspiration to women in the sector globally, currently holding the presitigous role of Museum Director at Hong Kong’s M+ public gallery, a major new museum of contemporary visual culture boasting an impressive 65,000 square meter space, the biggest cultural infrastructure project under construction anywhere in the world.
Ms Raffel’s contribution to global arts scene extends beyond her current role. She is also a Trustee of the Geoffrey Bawa Trust and the Lunuganga Trust, Sri Lanka. She is on the Board of CIMAM, the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art, a member of the BIZOT group, and previously was a member of the Asian Art Council at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. To recognise her accomplishments, Suhanya was made a Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government in 2020. Her connections and influence on the global arts scene through these roles will ensure diverse and Australian views continue to inform the cultural landscape in Asia. Ms Raffel is, at once, courageous and realistic about her stewardship role promoting freedom of artistic expression within one of the world’s most active geopolitical fault lines. She remains focused on her belief that public institutions are an important part of the storytelling and remembering, allowing citizens to ‘see who we are’.
“I became part of the museum world because I was so convinced that we needed to champion, now more than ever, the work of artists and creative makers.”