Alexandra Kneeland Munroe (Chinese name: (孟璐; Japanese name: アレクサンドラ·モンロー) is Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and has led the museum’s Asian Art Initiative since 2006. She sets the direction for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s Asian art exhibitions, acquisitions, and programs throughout its global network. She serves on the Curatorial Working Group for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum Project and convenes the Asian Art Council, a curatorial think tank. Under her leadership, the museum has presented ground-breaking exhibitions and scholarly publications on Asian art in a global context and has expanded its mission to study, acquire and exhibit art from beyond the Western world.
Before joining the Guggenheim in 2006, Munroe was Vice President of Arts and Culture, Japan Society, an American organization dedicated to cultural and policy exchange between Japan and the United States, and was director of its museum. She led the society’s expansion of contemporary arts programming through such exhibitions as Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subcultures (2005) curated by Takashi Murakami, and organized the society’s first inter-Asia exhibition, Transmitting the Forms of Divinity: Early Buddhist Art from Korea and Japan, which The New York Times selected as #1 Best Show of 2003.
Munroe is a trustee of the Aspen Music Festival and School; Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; Intelligence Squared US; Longhouse Reserve; and the US-Japan Foundation. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a former member of the Association of American Museum Directors (AAMD). She currently serves on the advisory boards of Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong; Jnanapravaha Mumbai; Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai; and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing. She lectures at museums around the world and has spoken at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia University and the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing and the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, one of Japan’s National Institutes for the Humanities.
In April 2011, she spearheaded the Guggenheim’s international museums petition calling for the release of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei. With broad support from ICOM, the American Association of Museum Directors (AAMD) and PEN America, the petition garnered over 145,000 signatures from around the world on the activist online site change.org.
Munroe was born in the United States and raised in Mexico and Japan. She completed freshman and sophomore years at Brown University and later received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese Language and Culture from Sophia University Tokyo in 1982. She earned a Masters degree in art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and in 2004, was awarded a Ph.D. in history from New York University, with a thesis on postwar Japanese art and politics completed under the supervision of Professor Harry Harootunian.
From 1977 to 1980, she was a resident lay disciple at Yotokuin, a subtemple of Daitokuji (大徳寺) monastic compound in Kyoto, a historic center of Rinzai Zen.
Munroe is married to financier and philanthropist Robert Rosenkranz and serves with him on the board of The Rosenkranz Foundation. In 2005, they co-founded Intelligence Squared US., a public policy debate forum carried on 220+ NPR radio stations and downloaded by millions on NPR and iTunes podcasts. Her philanthropic giving through the AKM Fund at New York Community Trust focuses on end-of-life and palliative care training at Yale and Harvard medical schools. They live in New York City and have residences in London and Aspen.