Jonathan David MacLachlan Fine

Ph.D., 2020


Jonathan is the Director of the Weltmuseum Wien in Vienna, Austria. In 2023, he was appointed as General Director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, effective January 1, 2025. Before coming to Vienna, he was Head of Collections (Museumsleiter) at the Ethnologisches Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, and curator for the collections from West Africa, Cameroon, Gabon, and Namibia.

Jonathan completed his dissertation, entitled The Throne from the Grassfields: History, Gifts, and Authenticity in the Bamum Kingdom, 1880–1929, in 2020. The study examines a small iconic group of thrones from the largest kingdom in Western Cameroon and traces their histories through the pre-colonial and colonial contexts of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Jonathan holds B.A.s from the University of Chicago and Cambridge, an M.A. from Stanford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. His work on African art grows out of his legal work, which, in part, concerned disputed territory in Africa and the litigation of human rights and constitutional issues in United States courts.

Jonathan has held numerous fellowships, including a Jacob Javits Fellowship and a Federal Chancellor’s Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. His projects for digitizing museum collections and archival materials have been funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Ernst-von-Siemens-Kunststiftung. He also has received support from the Gerda Henkel Foundation for confronting Germany’s colonial past in Namibia and returning cultural objects to Namibia for research with local communities,

Jonathan is a member of the board of directors of ICOM-Austria. In 2022–2023 he chaired an international committee appointed by the Austrian ministry of culture to develop recommendations for a policy on return of cultural objects from colonial contexts to their countries of origin. He also served as a member of the German Museums’ Association working group on collections from colonial contexts and is an author of the Association’s Guidelines on the Care of Collections from Colonial Contexts.