The contemporary art and architecture museum, housed in a building designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, has been plagued with financial troubles.
But museum director Giorgia Melandri said it was reducing its dependence on public subsidies and managing to allocate more resources to core activities.
"Hanru will help us occupy a bigger place on the international map," Melandri said at a joint press conference with Hou, an international art curator.
Hou said he hoped "this institution can provide an example of how creativity can change the world.
"We should not see a museum like this as a replica or an extension of something in New York but as a chance to come up with new ideas," he said.
Hou moved to Paris from China in 1990 and has worked as a director of exhibitions at the San Francisco Art Institute, a consultant at the Guggenheim in New York and a co-director of the first World Biennale Forum.
He will take up his four-year contract in December.
Melandri said the museum urgently needs public funds of around €6 million just for yearly running costs and is hoping to raise the same amount in donations, sponsorships and ticket sales.
She said around 60 percent of its budget was currently public funds and she was hoping to reduce this proportion to 50 percent over the next three years.
Italy has seen steep cuts in culture budgets in recent years in a series of austerity programmes aimed at reducing its heaving public debt, although the current government has promised to increase funding.