She is a board member of the Association of Art Museum Directors, the American Alliance of Museums, and the Museum Association of New York. She is also on the founding Advisory committee for the USC American Academy in China and has participated in the advisory committees for the Gwangju and Shanghai Biennales.
Born in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, in 1972, Chiu was educated in Sydney, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Western Sydney and then an MA (Arts Administration) at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. She later completed a PhD at the University of Western Sydney focusing on Chinese contemporary art in the diaspora.
Chiu worked as an independent curator for several years at the beginning of her career. From 1993-1996, she joined the University of Western Sydney Collection at the University of Western Sydney as a curator. in 1996, Chiu collaborated with a group of Asian Australian artists, performers, filmmakers and writers to establish Gallery 4A, a nonprofit contemporary art center devoted to promoting dialogue in the Asia-Pacific region. Chiu was founding Director of Gallery 4A, later renamed the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. In 2001 she was the curator during the Center's transition to a two-story city owned heritage building in Sydney’s Chinatown.
Chiu was appointed Asia Society's Museum Director in 2004 after serving as the curator of contemporary Asian and Asian American art—the first curatorial post of its kind in an American museum. She initiated a number of initiatives at the Asia Society Museum, including the launch of a contemporary art collection to complement the museum's Rockefeller Collection of traditional Asian art.
Chiu has curated over thirty international exhibitions mainly focused on the art and artists of Asia. Her major curatorial credits include Zhang Huan: Altered States (2006) and Art and China's Revolution (2008)  with Zheng Shengtian, one of the first historical appraisals of Chinese art from the 1950s through 1970s and Nobody's Fool: Yoshitomo Nara (2010) with Miwako Tezuka. She was awarded a Getty Curatorial Research Fellowship in 2004.
She was the Museum Director of the Asia Society, and its Vice President of Global Art Programs, responsible for programming its Park Avenue museum and future museum facilities under construction in Hong Kong and Houston.
Following her 2014 appointment as the first non-American to head the Hirshhorn, Chiu announced the hiring of New York-based Gianni Jetzer as curator-at-large. Jetzer was allowed to maintain his position as a curator for Art Basel, despite the appearance of a conflict of interest.
In August 2015, Chiu announced that the museum's 40th anniversary celebration would be held at 4 World Trade Center in New York. Philip Kennicott, art and architecture critic of The Washington Post, commented that the decision was "deeply troubling and raises concern about where Chiu is taking the organization". The controversy of her decision to move the location of the 40th anniversary to New York from D.C. led to a concern of "missing out on the chance to cultivate critical donors" in Washington.
Chiu has published in art magazines and journals, and has authored several books, including Breakout: Chinese Art Outside China (2007), published by Charta and Chinese Contemporary Art: 7 Things You Should Know (2008), published by AW Asia. Her latest books include Contemporary Asian Art with Benjamin Genocchio, published by Thames & Hudson and Monacelli Press, and an edited anthology, Contemporary Art in Asia: A Critical Reader, published by MIT Press.
In 2010, Chiu joined the Sunday Arts television show on PBS WNET to conduct a series of interviews with cultural leaders. Interview subjects have included William Kentridge, Shirin Neshat, Yoko Ono, Tan Dun, Chuck Close and Antony Gormley.
In addition to her museum work, Chiu is a regular speaker at international conferences and symposia and has delivered lectures at such institutions as Harvard University, Columbia University, Yale University and the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, among others.[not in citation given]
Chiu is married to Benjamin Genocchio, art critic and editor-in-chief of Artnet News. The two co-authored Asian Art Now. In September 2015, The Washington Post reported that Genocchio had edited the content of her Wikipedia entry to remove text about her work at the Hirshhorn and add laudatory statements.
- "Officers". Asia Society. 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "Stories of Unlimited - University of Western Sydney (UWS)". westernsydney.edu.au.
- "Who are you? | Melissa Chiu | Big Think". 188.8.131.52. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "Profile: Melissa Chiu". Artinfo. 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "Melissa Chiu | Museum Director, Asia Society". Big Think. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- Melissa Chiu, Western Sydney University. "Alumni High Achievers". www.westernsydney.edu.au. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
- "Art Insight #6: Profile of Melissa Chiu". brand.hyundai.com. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
- "Chronicler of the Asian-Australian experience". www.smh.com.au. 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "ARTAND, Melissa Chiu to lead Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden". www.artandaustralia.com. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
- "Location One, Melissa Chiu talks with Richard Bell". www.location1.org. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
- "Gallery reincarnated with more space and just the right chi". smh.com.au - The Sydney Morning Herald. 2000-10-27. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "A Conversation with Melissa Chiu | ArtZineChina.com | 中国艺志". ArtZineChina.com. 1989-06-04. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- Upcoming Events Past Events. "Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody's Fool | New York". Asia Society. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "Artlog". Artlog. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "About Asia Society | Hong Kong". Asia Society. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "Gianni Jetzer to Be Hirshhorn Museum's Curator at Large". Artnet.com. 2014-10-30. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
- "The Washington Hostess Who Nurtured Warhol". nytimes.com. 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
- "Strike Two for Melissa Chiu?". Washingtoncitypaper.com. 2014-08-10. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
- "New director of Hirshhorn snubs D.C. to hold 40th-anniversary gala in New York". Washingtonpost.com. 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
- Capps, Kriston (18 September 2015). ""If we hadn't been part of the Smithsonian, we would've gone the way of the Corcoran.": Melissa Chiu takes over the Hirshhorn?.". Washington City Paper. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
- Chiu, Melissa; Genocchio, Benjamin (2010). Contemporary Asian Art (PDF). UK: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978 0 500 238745.
- "Contemporary Art in Asia - The MIT Press". Mitpress.mit.edu. 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "Asia Society's Melissa Chiu Joins 'SundayArts' Team to Conduct In-Depth Interviews with Artists". Asia Society. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "Melissa Chiu | Sunday Arts". Thirteen. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
- "Melissa Chiu Named Head of Hirshhorn Museum". Artnet.com. 2014-06-15. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
- "Hiroshi Sugimoto in Conversation with Melissa Chiu". http://asiasociety.org/. Retrieved 2015-08-11. External link in
- Heil, E. Reliable Source: Hirshhorn museum director’s husband scrubs her Wikipedia entry of controversy. washington Post, September 18, 2015.