Discussion with Artist Peter Soriano, installation of Permanent Maintenance
The Lunder Institute for American Art supports innovative research and creative production that expands the boundaries of American art. A collaborative initiative with the world-renowned Colby College Museum of Art located in central Maine, the Lunder Institute invites visiting artists, scholars, and fellows to engage across disciplines with Colby faculty and students, the College’s network of institutional partners, leading experts, and other creative collaborators. Through incubator grants, fellowships, and symposia addressing regional and global concerns, the Lunder Institute amplifies marginalized voices, challenges convention, and provides a platform for generative dialogue through art and scholarship.


The Lunder Institute was established in 2017 through the generosity of Peter and Paula Lunder, longtime benefactors of the College, the Museum, and the field of American art. Since the establishment of the Museum in 1959, American art has been a distinguished strength. Over the past decade, its founding collections have been expanded and enriched by two major gifts of art from the Lunder Collection in 2013 and 2017. The Lunder Institute was conceived as a research and creative arm of the Colby Museum, with significant ties to the College and its multidisciplinary curricula. It provides a platform for the Museum to develop scholarly and artistic collaborations and extend its engagement with local, national, and international audiences.

Peter and Paula Lunder

Formerly of Waterville, Maine, Peter and Paula Lunder have strong ties to Colby College and its museum. Mr. Lunder graduated from Colby in 1956, and both Mr. and Mrs. Lunder received honorary degrees from the College in 1998. Mr. Lunder is a life overseer. Mrs. Lunder joined the Board of Trustees in 1998 and served as its Vice Chair in 2003-04. In 2006, she was named a life trustee. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lunder have been committed to the College and the museum and have served on the museum’s Board of Governors since 1995. In that year, they pledged the lead gift to the museum’s Lunder Wing, designed by architect Frederick Fisher and inaugurated in 1999. That same year, they also endowed a curatorial position at the museum, the Lunder Curator of American Art. In 2007, they promised their collection of more than 500 works of art to the College. In 2013, the museum opened the Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, also designed by Frederick Fisher, to display this major gift. Mr. Lunder was the vice chairman of the Smithsonian Institution’s national board and served on the Board of Commissioners at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where the Lunder Foundation endowed the Lunder Conservation Center and the position of Lunder Education Curator. They also endowed the Lunder Curator of American Art at the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and the Lunder Curator for Whistler Studies at the Colby Museum. Mr. Lunder serves on the boards of the Harold Alfond Foundation and the Terra Foundation. Mrs. Lunder currently serves on a visiting committee at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Lee Glazer

Lunder Institute Inaugural Director

A specialist in American art of the Gilded Age, Glazer is the author or editor of numerous books and articles, most recently Charles Lang Freer: A Cosmopolitan Life (2017) and the forthcoming Whistler in Watercolor: Lovely Little Games (Spring 2019). Before joining the Institute’s leadership team, she was curator of American art at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery from 2007 until 2018.

Theaster Gates

Lunder Institute Distinguished Visiting Artist and Director of Artist Initiatives

As a sculptor and urban planner by training, Gates’ practice investigates and aims to bridge the gulf between art and society by establishing cultural platforms as a way of initiating social, political, architectural, and urban change. Among the artist’s initiatives, Dorchester Projects began as an artistic endeavor on Chicago’s South Side which launched his ongoing interrogation of land, ownership, and varying formal trajectories of artistic engagement. Most recently his work was presented in solo exhibitions at Kuntsmuseum Basel, Sprengel Museum in Hannover, as well as Fondazione Prada in Milan. In 2018, he was awarded the Nasher Prize for Sculpture, as well as the Urban Land Institute’s J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.

Tanya Sheehan

Lunder Institute Distinguished Scholar and Director of Research; William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Art at Colby College

Sheehan is the author of Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America (2011) and Study in Black and White: Photography, Race, Humor (2018). Sheehan’s edited books include Photography, History, Difference (2014), Photography and Its Origins (2015), Grove Art Guide to Photography (2017), and Photography and Migration (2018). Since 2015 she has served as the executive editor of the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art Journal.

Daisy Desrosiers

Lunder Institute Director of Programs

An interdisciplinary art historian with a background in independent curatorial work, Desrosiers’ current research focuses on the cultural, post-colonial, and material implications of the use of sugar in contemporary art. From 2012 to 2017, Desrosiers was the director of Battat Contemporary (Montreal, Canada) where she oversaw the collection along with collaborations with living artists resulting in exhibitions, publications, residencies, and site-specific projects. In 2018 she was the inaugural recipient of the Nicholas Fox Weber curatorial fellowship, affiliated with the Glucksman Museum (Cork, Ireland) as well as a curatorial fellow-in-residence at Art in General (Brooklyn, NY).

Mareisa Weil

Lunder Institute Administrative Coordinator