James Steward forwarded as Museum of Art Director
James Steward recommended as director of Museum of Art
ANN ARBOR—James Steward, a specialist in 18th- and 19th-century European visual culture, will be recommended to the University of Michigan Board of Regents as director of the U-M Museum of Art at its April 21 meeting. If approved, he also will be assistant professor in the School of Art and Design and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of History of Art. He will assume the post in mid-July.
“James Steward will bring to the University a broad background and experience which, combined with his energy and creativity, will help to enhance the visibility of the Museum of Art and foster connections with our academic units and the broader community,” said U-M Provost Nancy Cantor, in recommending him for the post. “I am very pleased that he has accepted my invitation to join our community, and I look forward to working with him in support of the Museum of Art.”
Steward comes to the U-M from the Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California where he is chief curator and assistant director. At Berkeley he has been responsible for all aspects of the exhibition program and collection development and management. He also supervises a museum internship program and, as an adjunct professor, develops and teaches museum studies and period art history courses.
He has received several major grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Among the exhibitions he has organized are “The New Child: British Art and the Origins of Modern Childhood, 1730-1830” and “When Time Began to Rant and Rage: Figurative Painting from Twentieth-Century Ireland,” both of which are interdisciplinary in nature and reflect his scholarly research and interests. The latter opens in October and will be seen in Liverpool, Berkeley, New York, and London.
Steward studied the art and literature of varied cultures when he lived in the Far East, and was a student of the late Renaissance scholar Frederick Hartt during his undergraduate years at the University of Virginia. He also studied at the Sorbonne, when he gained his first professional museum experience through a research appointment at the Musee du Louvre.
In graduate work at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York, Steward’s research focused on two disparate areas—19th-century French art and national identity, and archaic sculpture from ancient Greece. His doctoral dissertation at Oxford University was on childhood and family relationships as revealed in 18th-century British art, under the direction of art historian Francis Haskell.
After a period of independent curating and writing, Steward joined the Berkeley Art Museum, first as curator and then chief curator. Much of his work there grew out of his interdisciplinary interests in art as the expression of social values and change.
Steward has lectured widely and taught courses on a number of topics, including museum philosophy and practice and the future of the museum. He currently is developing a project that looks at 19th-century artists’ photography.
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