Work in Progress: Manuscript for The Privilege of Display: Encyclopedic Art Museums and the Question of Racial Progress, 1842-1876

Most histories of encyclopedic art museums in the United States begin in the 1870s, when impressive architecture was built for significant collections in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Early iterations of these collections in the mid-nineteenth century are typically only mentioned in prefaces, with scholars describing their exhibitions as disorganized and temporary. The Privilege of Display takes another look at the formation of art museums during the Civil War era and Reconstruction, revealing the underacknowledged racial politics of collections throughout the Northeast. Institutional archives record the work of mid-nineteenth-century social scientists and the notions of racial progress behind their display of the “fine arts” amongst other objects. Previously unpublished photographs, illustrations, and floor plans also point to a sweeping narrative to art exhibitions, acknowledged by visitors as political statements about race. Records of protests against the exhibitions give additional insights into the intent and impact of racial theories at a time when the end of chattel slavery and territorial expansion were at the center of U.S. politics.

My writings on modern and contemporary art have been translated into German, French, Arabic, and Japanese. Here is a sampling of my most recent work:

Book review of Ron Tyler, ed., The Art of Texas: 250 Years. The Journal of Southern History 86, no. 2 (May 2020): 461-462,

“Simultaneity 1970: Comparing Photographs of Conceptual Art Internationally” and “Before Sentimental Journey: Nobuyoshi Araki’s Self-Publications.” In Yasufumi Nakamori and Reiko Tomii with Allison Pappas, eds. For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts Houston, in association with Yale University Press, 2015. Published in conjunction with the exhibition “For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979,” held at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston; Japan Society Gallery, New York; and NYU Grey Art Gallery, New York,

Exhibition review of “Late Surrealism” at The Menil Collection. The Journal of Surrealism and the Americas 8, no. 1 (January 2015): 136-139,

“The Beauties: Repetition in Andy Warhol’s Paintings and Plato’s Ascent to Beauty.” In Lenia Kouneni, ed. The Legacy of Antiquity: New Perspectives in the Reception of the Classical World. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014,

Andy Coolquitt. With contributions by Dan Fox, Matthew Higgs, and Jan Tumlir. Austin: University of Texas Press, in association with Blaffer Art Museum, 2012. Published in conjunction with the exhibition “andy coolquitt: attainable excellence,” held at Blaffer Art Museum and The Contemporary Austin,

Previous publications are listed on Orcid and Google Scholar.