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Professor and Museum Studies Advisor
Department of History of Art
11 Talbot Avenue
Medford, MA 02155
Email Prof. McClellan
Other interests explored in articles along the way include the nascent profession of art dealing in 18th-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 book, The Art of Curating (co-authored with my late former student Sally Anne Duncan) examines the professionalization of art museum curators in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. Sachs's Museum Course was responsible for shaping a professional field - museum management - that in turn defined the organizational structure and values of an institution through which the American public came to know art. Conceived at a time of great museum expansion and public interest in the United States, the Museum Course channeled and put into practice key philosophical debates about how art museums should function, and for whom. Blending theory and practice, Sachs offered integrated training in object connoisseurship and hands-on management that codified and institutionalized principles of leadership, curating, and museum display that have long since been taken for granted in institutions across the country. The Harvard course was instrumental in deciding crucial questions of who is fit to run our museums, the relative importance of collecting and interpreting objects, the role of scholarship and conservation, and hierarchies of aesthetic worth. During its run, some 300 hundred students went on to careers in more than 100 North American museums and seventy universities. Today over 100 million people a year visit American art museums and many of them received a formative imprint from one (or more) of Sachs's students. Awarded Best Book in Art & Photography for 2019 by The New England Society.
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