Wen-chien Cheng

Dr. Wen Chen Cheng

Wen-chien Cheng

Curator (Louise Hawley Stone Chair of Far Eastern Art)

Area: World Cultures, Ancient Cultures, World Art & Culture

Exhibitions & Galleries: Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of China, Bishop White Gallery of Chinese Temple Art


Ph.D. History of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
M.A. Chinese Literature, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
B.A. Chinese Literature, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

Dr. Cheng joined the ROM in October 2011, as the Louise Hawley Stone Chair of East Asian Art. She is cross-appointed with the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Toronto.​​ Her Ph.D. is in the History of Art from the University of Michigan, where her specialty was Chinese painting. She has held postdoctoral fellowships at the J. Paul Getty Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution. Curatorial work, research, and teaching have been the three major parts of her academic training and experience.

Before joining the ROM, Dr. Cheng taught courses in Asian art history at the University of Michigan and Pennsylvania State University at University Park. Her museum experience spans nearly a decade, primarily through working in a research capacity for the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA). She served as guest curator and catalogue author for a special exhibition, Tradition Transformed: Chang Ku-nien, Chinese Master Painter of the 20th Century, showing in 2010 at the UMMA. She was also the co-curator and catalogue co-author for the exhibition Looking Both Ways: A Contemporary Art Exhibition Coinciding with the Centennial of the Xinhai Revolution (2011), organized by the Eastern Michigan University Art Galleries in collaboration with the Confucius Institute and the North Campus Research Complex at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Cheng is responsible for developing a dynamic program of collection-based scholarship through acquisitions and permanent and temporary exhibitions. Her major area of research is premodern Chinese painting, and her research approach is a contextualized study of visual culture. Her most recent research examines a group of Song paintings depicting rural folk participating in festivities. She addresses them in the larger Song cultural and political discourses of “ordinary rustics,” exploring the related issues of governance, class, ritual, and constructed personae. She is interested in a variety of research topics and issues, including the relationship between images and words, the artistic making of social identities, the impact of “spectatorship” or “viewership” in shaping the interpretive process of an artwork, artistic negotiations of traditions and inventions, and collecting Chinese art in the early twentieth century. 

Recent Publications

Year Publication
2011 Dr. Wen-chien Cheng. "Antiquity and Rusticity: Images of the Ordinary in the Farmers’ Wedding Painting." Journal of Song-Yuan Studies , 41, 2011
2011 Dr. Wen-chien Cheng and co-authored with Suchan, Tom and Yang, Guye-Meei. Ypsilanti. "Looking Both Ways: A Contemporary Art Exhibition Coinciding with the Centennial of the Xinhai Revolution." Eastern Michigan University Art Galleries
2010 Dr. Wen-chien Cheng. "“李迪〈雪中归牧图〉主題之再商榷,” [Further discussion of Li Di’s Returning in the Snow from Ox-herding]《千年丹青——細讀中、日藏唐宋元绘画珍品》上海博物館編, 北京大學出版. Essay included in Masterpieces of Ancient Chinese Paintings from the Tang to Yuan Dynasty in Japanese and Chinese Collections." Edited by Shanghai Museum, Peking University Press, 245-256.
2010 Dr. Wen-chien Cheng. "“古法新裁傳墨韻—張榖年繪畫,” [Old tradition made new in lyrical expression of ink—Chang Ku-nien’s paintings] 大觀月刊 ." Daguan Monthly, 4, January, 2010
2010 Dr. Wen-chien Chen. "Tradition Transformed: Chang Ku-nien, Master Painter of the 20th Century..", University of Michigan Museum of Art
2008 Dr. Wen-chien Cheng. "The Drunken Dreamland: Study on Tipsiness in Spring Painting.." National Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art, 308, Nov. 2008
2006 Dr. Wen-chien Cheng. "Drunken Village Elder or Scholar-Recluse? The Ox-Rider And Its Meanings In Song (960-1279) Paintings of Returning Home Drunk.." Artibus Asiae, 65.2, 2005