Research/Areas of Interest:
History of museums, exhibitions, and collecting; history of art history; Early Modern European art and theory
PhD, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, United Kingdom
MA, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom
BA, University College London, United Kingdom
Trained in European art of the early modern period (primarily 17th-early 19th centuries), I have written on painting, sculpture and architecture, but especially on the history of museums and art collecting. An overriding interest in contexts, institutional frameworks, the display and reception of art five of my books, Inventing the Louvre: Art, Politics, and the Origins of the Modern Museum in Eighteenth-Century Paris (1999), Art and Its Publics: Museum Studies at the Millennium (2003), and The Art Museum from Boullée to Bilbao (2008), The Art of Curating: Paul J. Sachs and the Museum Course at Harvard (2018), Revisiting History in Museums and at Historic Sites (2021).
Other interests explored in articles along the way include the nascent profession of art dealing in eighteenth-century-century Paris, the iconic function and shifting fortunes of public sculpture in Revolutionary France, museum expansion in Abu Dhabi, the Goncourts as collectors, and animal display in early natural history museums. In 2014 I curated an exhibition at the Tufts Gallery and wrote an accompanying book on Tufts's mascot, Jumbo the Elephant, entitled Jumbo: Marvel, Myth, & Mascot (2014). My latest full-length book, The Art of Curating (co-authored with Sally Anne Duncan) examines the professionalization of art museum curators in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century.
My current project, "Rivals on the Fenway," is a book-length exploration of the simultaneous formation and complementary design of Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and (new) Museum of Fine Arts. Drawing on archival sources and secondary literature, this study will offer a new vision of the overlapping trajectories of public and private art museums in the United States.