The New Curator of Photography Collections at Harvard Art Museums

Makeda Best is the new Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography at the Harvard Art Museums. Harvard’s documentary photography collection consists of nearly 35,000 images and 40,000 negatives.

Dr. Best was an assistant professor of visual studies at the California College of the Arts. Earlier, she was an assistant professor in the department of art and architecture at the University of Vermont. Dr. Best is the co-editor of Conflict, Identity, and Protest in American Art (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015).

Martha Tedeschi, the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums, said that “Makeda Best is an accomplished scholar and curator, an innovative thinker, and a passionate advocate for teaching with original works of art. Makeda’s deep understanding of photography as an art form — and as a social, cultural, and political force — will advance new and challenging ideas to support our teaching and learning mission.”

Dr. Best said, “I am excited to return to Harvard and the museums’ vast teaching collections, which offer so many ways to explore the formal and conceptual challenges that photographers have faced and to consider how they’ve negotiated new technologies, processes, social factors, and trends in visual culture over time.”

Dr. Best earned a bachelor’s degree and a master of fine arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

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