Teaching Professor, History of Art (On Leave)
My undergraduate degrees are in history and Italian language and literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1986). I received my PhD in art history from the University of Chicago (1995), where I wrote a dissertation on representations of the Levant in late medieval and early Renaissance Venice. From 1998 to 2003, I was the Mellon Projects Curator at the University of Chicago's Smart Museum of Art, tasked with building connections between faculty, students, and the work of the museum. Among the many exhibitions I co-curated and catalogues I edited at the Smart were The Place of the Antique in Early Modern Europe, The Theatrical Baroque, and Paper Museums: The Reproductive Print in Europe, 1500-1800.
In 2004, I moved to Baltimore to become a liaison between the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, and Johns Hopkins University, and in 2006 I founded the Program in Museums and Society. I directed the program until June 2017, raising nearly $1Million in grant funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. My 2007 article "The Ivory Tower and the Crystal Palace," explores relationships between the university and museum.
I am active in the academic museum community. In 2013, I was a panelist at the conference on “Teaching Museums in the 21st Century" at the Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, and in 2014 I participated in a workshop on "Future Careers in Art Museums of the Future" at the annual meeting of the College Art Association. I have served as a consultant at Smith College and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and have been a field editor for exhibition reviews at caa.reviews. I am a book reviewer for several academic journals.
I have a long-standing interest in the representation and material expression of cultural exchange in the early modern period. I am currently completing an article-length study of the reception of imported objects in Venice, c. 1500, objects that are often classified (in museums) as "Islamic" and "decorative (arts)." Using a range of historical sources, including trade and travel documents as well as chronicles, I am exploring the various meanings such objects would have had to contemporary Venetians. In April 2014, I presented a version of this work at the annual meeting of the Association of Art Historians in London.
Another, book-length project investigates the history of Gentile Bellini's portrait of Mehmet II from its production in 1480 in Istanbul to its contemporary interpretations. This study builds on my 2011 article about the portrait, as well as on work I did as part of the 2010 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, “Re-Mapping the Renaissance: Exchange between Early Modern Europe and Islam,” held at the University of Maryland (see the resulting website Serai for a glimpse into some related research).
These research interests grow directly out of the work I have done in and around museums and are reflected in my teaching as well. My course on "material migrations" taught at Hopkins with objects in the collection of the Walters Art Museum (see the results of this project, "Art on the Move," below), as well as a seminar on "Readings in Material Culture" that I am co-taught with Rebecca Brown in Fall 2014 merged my historical, theoretical, and pedagogic interests. In the spring of 2015 I co-taught a course on artifact conservation with Lori Trusheim and an array of local conservators. I had invaluable preparation for this experience with a 1-week seminar at the Institute of Fine Arts on technical art history, funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation (STITAH). My field of study is increasingly global. In 2015, I chaired a session titled "Global Perspectives on the Museum" at the annual meeting of the College Art Association, a project growing out of a course by the same name that I co-taught in 2012 with Sanchita Balachandran.
Similarly, an article on the Musée Nissim de Camondo in Paris emerged directly from my teaching. Built in 1911–14 for an important collection of eighteenth-century furnishings and decorative arts, this museum took on a commemorative function following the death of the founder’s son, Nissim, for whom it was named. Over the last century, through the vicissitudes of history, revised narrative priorities, and changing approaches to museum presentation, this house-turned-museum has become a site of historical representation focused as much on the twentieth century and the Camondo family as on the period of its original inspiration. My research, which appeared in the Museum History Journal, explores that transition, attending to the museum’s founding memorial goal in the wake of the Second World War, the tragic demise of the Camondo family, and shifting perspectives on French history.
The work for that study began on a 2012 trip to Paris, where I taught a two-week intersession course on museums for Hopkins undergraduates—a course I repeat on a semi-regular basis.
My teaching and research interests are tightly intertwined, and I derive great motivation and excitement from engaging with my students. Please read about my research to learn more about some of the things I am thinking about and working on, both in the classroom and outside it.
- Introduction to the Museum: Past and Present (M&S minor requirement)
- Introduction to the Museum: Issues and Ideas (M&S minor requirement)
- Museum Matters (freshman seminar)
- About Things (freshman seminar planned for 2015-16; tentative title)
- Conservation of Material Culture: Art, Artifacts and Heritage Sites (with L. Trusheim)
- Global Perspectives on the Museum (with S. Balachandran)
- Who Owns Culture? (advanced seminar)
- Prints and Print Culture in Early Modern Europe
- Readings in Material Culture (advanced undergraduate/graduate seminar; with R. Brown)
- Museum-based practicum courses have included:
- Behind the Scenes at the Walters Art Museum: Material Migrations (with B. Tilghman)
- Behind the Scenes at the Walters Art Museum: Mapping the Cosmos (with B. Tilghman)
- Paper Museums: Exhibiting Prints at the Baltimore Museum of Art
- Close Looking at the Baltimore Museum of Art: Rinaldo and Armida (with A. Manning)
- Surveying Paris: Museums, Monuments, and Cultural Memory (study abroad)
As founder of the Program in Museums and Society, I was responsible for developing and directing curricular initiatives.
- Materiality and material culture. We are developing new courses in areas related to heritage preservation and management, theories of materiality, and experimental archaeology. Collaboration with local conservation labs and specialists is an important part of this initiative.
- Books and book arts. From Fall 2015 to Spring 2017, the Program sponsored a series of courses in and around the history, production, interpretation, and display of books, historical and modern. We are working with other local colleges and universities to enrich the course offerings, and with museums and galleries to coordinate a series of related exhibitions. The culmination of this exploration was a spring, 2017 student-curated exhibition.
“Mobile Things: On Origins and the Meanings of Levantine Objects in Early Modern Venice,” chapter in preparation for Re-Mapping the Renaissance: Travels to Islam and Back Again (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, forthcoming)
“Preserving and Perpetuating Memory at the Musée Nissim de Camondo in Paris," Museum History Journal, vol. 7 (January, 2014): 36-54.
“The Politics of Marriage in Carpaccio’s St. Ursula Cycle,” Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 8 (October, 2013): 85-117; Winner, Best Article Prize for Volume 8 (2013).
“Mapping the Provenance of Museum Objects,” Archive Journal, Issue 2, Fall 2012.
“The Sultan’s True Face? Gentile Bellini, Mehmet II, and the Value of Verisimilitude” in The “Turk” and Islam in the Western Eye (1453–1832), ed. James Harper, Ashgate, 2011.
"The Ivory Tower and the Crystal Palace: Universities, Museums, and the Potential of Public Art History,” invited contribution to caa.reviews (Nov. 27, 2007).
“Mapping Narrative at the Church of San Marco: A Study in Visual Storying,” Word & Image 14 (no. 4, 1998): 387–96.
“Describing Narrative in Gentile Bellini’s Procession in Piazza San Marco,”Art History 21 (March, 1998): 26-44.
Selected Museum Publications
Paper Museums: The Reproductive Print in Europe, 1500–1800. With Rebecca Zorach. Chicago: David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, 2005 (co-author and editor).
Confronting Identities in German Art: Myths, Reactions, Reflections. Reinhold Heller et al. Chicago: David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, 2003 (editor).
A Well-Fashioned Image: Clothing and Costume in European Art, 1500–1850. With Elissa B. Weaver. Chicago: David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, 2002 (co-author and editor).
Pious Journeys: Christian Devotional Art and Practice in the Later Middle Ages and Renaissance. Linda Seidel et al. Chicago: David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, 2001 (editor).
The Theatrical Baroque. Larry F. Norman et al. Chicago: David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, 2001 (editor).
The Place of the Antique in Early Modern Europe. Ingrid D. Rowland et al. Chicago: David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, 1999 (editor).
Selected Museum Exhibitions and Projects
Art on the Move, 2010, GoogleEarth tour of objects in the permanent collection of the Walters Art Museum, with Dr. Benjamin Tilghman and Johns Hopkins University students.
Mapping the Cosmos: Images from the Hubble Space Telescope, Walters Art Museum, 2008, with Benjamin Tilghman and Johns Hopkins University students in collaboration with the Space Telescope Science Institute.
Printed Sculpture/Sculpted Prints, The Baltimore Museum of Art, 2007, co-curated with JHU undergraduates.
The City Real and Ideal, Baltimore Museum of Art, 2006.
Selected Museum Projects
Curator of 11 exhibitions at the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 1999-2005.