Diane Durston is a writer, lecturer, cultural consultant, and educator, who lived for 18 years in Japan.
From 2007 to 2018, Durston was the Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art & Education at Portland Japanese Garden, where she has been instrumental in expanding the Garden’s reputation as a center of cultural learning, laying the groundwork for the Garden’s new International Institute for Garden Arts and Culture. Upon her retirement in 2018, Durston assumed the role of Curator Emerita.
She is the author of three books and numerous essays and articles on the culture and traditional way of life in Kyoto. Her book Old Kyoto is now in a second edition and 15th printing. The New York Times has referred to it as a “Japan travel classic.” Her other books include Kyoto: Seven Paths to the Heart of the City, an introduction to historic preservation districts in Kyoto. She has also contributed essays to the Encyclopedia of Japan, Japan, The Cycle of Life, and the Japan Crafts Sourcebook. Her most recent book, Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life was published in 2006.
As a cultural consultant, she has developed on-site cultural programs in Japan introducing Japanese art, culture, religion, history, and gardens for such organizations as the University of Pennsylvania, the Whitney Museum, the Yale Galleries, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since returning to the US in 1996, Durston has served as Special Programs Producer for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, where she produced month-long performing arts festivals in conjunction with the openings of two special exhibitions “Edo: Art in Japan 1615–1868″ in 1998 and of “Golden Age of Archeology in China” in 1999. From 2002–2006, Durston was Director of Special Projects and later Curator of Education at the Portland Art Museum.
On November 3, 2022, it was announced that the Government of Japan has awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays to Durston. This award was established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji and is among the highest honors conferred to civilians.