Lauren K. Lessing

Mirken Director of Academic and Public Programs

Office: Bixler [ campus map ]
Box 5600

Phone: 207-859-5609
Fax: 207-859-5606
Mailing Address:
5600 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, Maine 04901-8856
Lessing, Lauren K.


Ph.D., History of Art, Indiana University, Bloomington, 2006 Dissertation: "Presiding Divinities: Ideal Sculpture in Nineteenth-Century American Domestic Interiors." Advisor and Committee Chair: Sarah Burns. BA with honors, Fine Art, Earlham College, 1991

Areas of Expertise

  • American Art
  • American Material and Visual Culture

Professional Information

Editor, Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art, June 2017-present

City Councilwoman, Waterville (Ward 3), January 2017-present

Mirken Director of Academic and Public Programs, Colby College Museum of Art, January 2017-present

Mirken Curator of Education, Colby College Museum of Art, June 2007- January 2015

Research Associate in American Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, September 2002-May 2007

Lecturer, Department of Art History, University of Missouri, Kansas City, January-December 2006

Reference Librarian/ Senior Reference Librarian, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries of the Art Institute of Chicago, July 1997-August 2002

Current Research

Iconoclasm and portraits between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars

Ben Shahn and the Office of War Information

Nineteenth-century ideal sculpture

The Relationship between painting and popular theater



“Theatrical Mayhem in Junius Brutus Stearns’s Hannah Duston Killing the Indians,” American Art 28 (Fall, 2014), 76-103.
“‘Not Unworthy of his Hand’: Crossing Borders in Benjamin West’s A Drayman Drinking,” Tran(s)tudies 2 (Summer 2012). With Terri Sabatos.
“Angels in the Home: Adelicia Acklen’s Sculpture Collection at Belmont Mansion,” Winterthur Portfolio 45 (Spring 2011), 29-60.
“New Perspective: Rereading Seymour Joseph Guy’s Making a Train,” American Art 25 (Spring 2011), 96-111.
“Ties that Bind: Hiram Powers’ Greek Slave and Nineteenth-Century Marriage,“ American Art 24 (Spring 2010), 41-65.
“Unveiling Raphaelle Peale’s Venus Rising from the Sea–A Deception,” Winterthur Portfolio 43 (Summer 2009), 229-59. With Mary Schafer.
"So Blessed Now that Accustomed Darkness: American Women's Response to Randolph Rogers' Sculpture Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii,” University of Michigan Art Museum Quarterly 13 (2000-2001), 53-73.
"The Problem of Provenance: Searching for Looted Art in Museum Collections," Art Documentation 19 (Fall 2000), 48-51.


A Usable Past: American Folk Art at the Colby College Museum of Art (The Colby College Museum of Art, 2016).
Art at Colby: Celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Colby College Museum of Art (The Colby College Museum of Art, 2009). With Sharon Corwin and Elizabeth Finch.
The Collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: American Paintings (The Nelson-Atkins Museum and Marquand Books, 2007). With Margaret C. Conrads and Randall R. Griffey.


“Whistler and the Daughters Leyland,” in Justin McCann, ed., Whistler and the World: The Lunder Collection of James McNeill Whistler (Waterville, Maine: Colby College Museum of Art, 2015), 64-67.
Contributing author, Brandon K. Ruud and Gregory Nosan, eds., Work on Paper from the Collection of the Sheldon Art Museum (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming).
Contributing author, Brandon K. Ruud and Gregory Nosan, eds,. Painting from the Collection of the Sheldon Art Museum (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2014).
"Benjamin Paul Akers, St. Elizabeth of Hungary," Object Narrative, in Conversations: An Online Journal of the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion (2014),

“Forming an American Identity,” in A Gift of Art: The Lunder Collection at the Colby College Museum of Art (Waterville, ME: Colby College Museum of Art, 2013), 49-84.
“Between Past and Present: Nineteenth-Century Paintings and Drawings,” in A Gift from the Heart: American Art from the Collection of James and Barbara Palmer (State College, PA: Penn State University Press, 2013), 11-28.

“Roses in Bloom: American Images of Adolescent Girlhood,” in Holly Pyne Connor, ed., Angels and Tomboys: Girlhood in Nineteenth-Century American Art, exh. cat. (Newark: Newark Museum, 2012), 107-32.
“The Artist as Explorer,” in Currents 6: Gina Siepel, exh. cat. (The Colby College Museum of Art, 2011), 5-15.
Contributing author, Hardy George, ed., Oklahoma City Museum of Art: Selected Paintings and Sculpture from the Collection (Oklahoma City: The Museum, 2007).


Review of Elizabeth Siegel, Galleries of Friendship and Fame (Yale University Press, 2010) in Photography and Culture 5 (March 2012), 121-24.
Review of Mary F. McVicker, Adela Breton: A Victorian Artist Amid Mexico's Ruins (University of New Mexico Press, 2006) in Aurora 7 (2006), 86-9.


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