James Steward

Nancy A. Nasher-David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director, Princeton University Art Museum
Office Phone
3-N-8 Green Hall


James Steward joined the Princeton University Art Museum as its director in April 2009; there, he directs a staff of 75 with an operating budget of $15 million and collections of over 80,000 works of art that span the globe and encompass 5,000 years of world history. Steward has launched a number of initiatives to position the Museum at the heart of the university experience, including expanding the Museum’s program of exhibitions and educational activities, as well as its open hours and outreach efforts, leading to a 50% growth in attendance. He is a lecturer with the rank of professor in the Department of Art and Archaeology, and a faculty fellow of Rockefeller College. Prior to coming to Princeton, he served from 1998 to 2009 as director of the University of Michigan Museum of Art, where he oversaw the planning, construction, and fundraising for a major new building, recognized as one of the year’s ten best new buildings for 2010 by the American Institute of Architects.

Steward holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and a doctorate in the history of art from Trinity College, Oxford University, where he studied with Francis Haskell. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the British Council, the American Ireland Fund, and the Robert Gore Rifkind Foundation. He has been a fellow of the Huntington Library and received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Service from the University of California, Berkeley.

Teaching Interests

Steward teaches in the so-called “long 18th century” (1700 to 1830), with particular interest in the art and culture of Britain, France, and Italy. In addition, he teaches in the area of public policy and the arts, museology, and the role and responsibilities of museums and cultural institutions in modern civic life.

Current Research

Professor Steward is currently researching a volume that re-theorizes the modern-day museum as an essential contributor to civic life, that rediscovers the social improvement goals of 19th-century museum founders, and that posits a number of critical roles for museums today in strengthening democracy and citizenship. He is also working on the 18th-century landscape garden in England and France as a manifestation of painting in three dimensions.


Ph.D., Oxford University, 1992

Selected Publications

A Beacon for Art (University of Michigan Museum of Art, 2009).

“Masks and Meanings in Tiepolo’s Venice,” in A Carnivale Celebration (Save Venice, Inc., 2006).

“Francis Haskell: A Biographical Memoir,” in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 149.4 (December 2005).

Betye Saar: Extending the Frozen Moment (University of California Press, 2005).

The Romanovs Collect: European Art from the State Hermitage Museum (University of Michigan Museum of Art/Merrell Publishers, 2003).

In Human Touch: Photographs by Ernestine Ruben (Nazraeli Press, 2001).

“The Camera of Sally Mann and the Spaces of Childhood,” Michigan Quarterly Review 39.2 (April 2000).

When Time Began to Rant & Rage: Figurative Painting from Twentieth-Century Ireland (Berkeley Art Museum/Merrell Holberton Publishers, 1998).

The Mask of Venice: Masking, Theater, and Identity in the Art of Tiepolo and His Time (Berkeley Art Museum/University of Washington Press, 1996).

The New Child: British Art and the Origins of Modern Childhood, 1730–1830 (Berkeley Art Museum/University of Washington Press, 1995).

18th-Century European Art
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