Director, Program in Museums and Society
Teaching Professor, History of Art
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Telephone: (410) 516-4827
Background: My undergraduate degrees are in History and Italian Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1986). I received my Ph.D. 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 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—a position that eventually led to the founding of the Program in Museums and Society. I have been directing the Program since it was established in 2006. I continue to hold adjunct curatorial and advisory positions at both the BMA and the Walters and to be interested in building productive relationships between museums and universities. My 2007 article "The Ivory Tower and the Crystal Palace: Universities, Museums, and the Potential for Public Art History" (caa.reviews, 2007) explores those relationships in detail.
Research: I have a long-standing interest in the representation and material expression of cultural exchange in the early modern period. My publications include articles on the mosaics of San Marco and representations of that church by Gentile Bellini, and a study of Bellini's portrait of Sultan Mehmet II, all of which explore relationships between Venice and the Levant as articulated through imagery. A current investigation of pictorial cycles by Vittore Carpaccio continues my work on Venetian narrative painting.
In recent years, as my teaching has turned to museum history and theory, my research has focused increasingly on the changing meanings of objects in circulation. Following presentations at the Renaissance Society of America and George Washington University, I am working on a study of the notion of exoticism in the domestic objects of Renaissance Venice, and on a book-length investigation of Bellini's Sultan portrait as it circulated from Istanbul to Venice to London and beyond. This work has been supported by my participation in 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, University of Maryland, and connects to my course on "material migrations" taught at Hopkins with objects in the collection of the Walters Art Museum.
A current research project centers on a more recent subject: the Musée Nissim de Camondo in Paris, and specifically the complex layering of historical and memorial references to be found there as it has evolved from a private residence to an increasingly open, public museum. Built in 1911-14 for an important collection of eighteenth-century furnishings and decorative arts, the house took on a commemorative function following the death of the founder’s son, Nissim, for whom the museum 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 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 this study began on a recent trip to Paris, where I taught a two-week intersession course on museums for Hopkins undergraduates—a course I look forward to repeating in January, 2014.
“Art on the Move: (Google) Mapping the Lives of Objects in the Collection of the Walters Art Museum,” invited contribution to Archive, in preparation.
- “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 Recent Exhibitions and Museum Projects
- Art on the Move, 2010, GoogleEarth tour of objects in the permanent collection of the Walters Art Museum, co-curated with co-curated with Dr. Ben Tilghman and Johns Hopkins University students.
- Mapping the Cosmos: Images from the Hubble Space Telescope, Walters Art Museum, 2008, co-curated with Dr. Ben 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.
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