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International Art Historian Mimi Gardner Gates to Speak at OU

Gates will present the Wylodean Saxon Memorial Lecture "Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road" at an OU dinner Oct. 6.

NORMAN, OKLA. – International art historian Mimi Gardner Gates will present the Wylodean Saxon Memorial Lecture Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road at a dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the University of Oklahoma.

In 1994 Gates was named director of the Seattle Art Museum, a position for which she was well suited due to the museum’s founding collection of Asian art. During her time in Seattle, Gates led the museum through an impressive fundraising effort that generated more than $200 million for the museum, marking the most successful arts campaign in Seattle’s history. She also was instrumental in the growth of the museum’s endowment, which increased from $19 million to more than $100 million during her time as director. Gates now serves as director emerita of the museum and works to oversee the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas, a collaborative effort between the Seattle Art Museum and the University of Washington.

Prior to her position at the Seattle Art Museum, Gates served as the Curator of Asian Art for the Yale University Art Gallery from 1975 to 1986 and went on to serve as director of the gallery for seven years.

Currently she serves on the boards of Copper Canyon Press, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, Northwest African American Museum, Heritage University, Terra Foundation for American Art and the Yale University Art Gallery. Gates chairs The Dunhuang Foundation and the Board of Managers of the Blakemore Foundation. 

Gates earned a bachelor’s degree in Asian history from Stanford University. She went on to earn a master’s degree in oriental and Chinese studies from the University of Iowa and a doctorate in art history from Yale University. In addition, she studied in Paris to earn certificates in Chinese language and culture. She served a six-year term as an Alumni Fellow of the Yale Corporation.

The Wylodean Saxon Memorial Lecture is funded through a generous gift from Mrs. Saxon’s husband, the late Bill D. Saxon, an OU alumnus and longtime benefactor who died in 2014. The gift, announced in 2005, was made in memory of Mrs. Saxon, who died in October 2003, and included an endowment for the directorship of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

Wylodean Cornelison Saxon was a lifelong student of the arts. Her appetite for knowledge about art and art history took her to museums all over the world, but her heart always stayed close to Norman, the community where she was born and raised. This dedication was reflected in her ongoing participation on the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Board of Visitors.

The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is on the corner of Elm Avenue and Boyd Street, at 555 Elm Ave., on the OU Norman campus.

Limited seating is available for the 6:30 p.m. lecture and dinner by reservation for OU students, faculty and staff, with overflow seating available to the public. For reservations, more information and accommodations on the basis of disability, please call OU Public Affairs at (405) 325-3784.