Christopher Maxwell Joins the Art Institute of Chicago as Samuel and Mr. Patricia Grober Curator of Applied Arts of Europe


February 14, 2022

CHICAGO- The Art Institute announced today that Christopher (Kit) Maxwell will assume the position of Samuel and Mr. Patricia Grober Curator, Applied Arts of Europe in February. Kit comes to the museum from the Corning Museum of Glass, where as Curator of Modern Glass he was responsible for collections dating from around 1250 to 1820. He brings an in-depth knowledge of European ceramics and glass, areas of strength in the collections of the Art Institute, and in his recent research he has explored the innovations and reception of 18th century British glass in the light of global trade and colonial expansion. His recent exhibition at Corning, In Sparkling Company: Glass and the Costs of Social Life in Britain in the 1700s shed new light on the importance of glass in the home, judicial, commercial and scientific circles.

“Kit Maxwell infused his work on 18th and 19th century collections with curiosity and open-mindedness, shedding new light on conventional narratives and challenging us all to think more broadly about the meaning and appeal of historic objects. His inquiry is energetic and deeply informed and I am delighted that he is working with us to engage new audiences,” said Ellenor Alcorn, President and Curator Eloise W. Martin, Applied Arts of Europe.

Prior to joining the Corning Museum of Glass, Kit held several positions at the Royal Collection Trust, and from 2005 to 2010 he was Assistant Curator of the Ceramics and Glass Section of the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he participated in the reinstallation of the Ceramics Galleries. Kit received his BA in Art History from the University of Cambridge, his MA in Decorative Arts from Birbeck College, University of London and his PhD from the University of Glasgow with a thesis on the dispersal of the collection Hamilton Palace. His recent post-doctoral work includes an MPhil in Nazi-era provenance from the University of Glasgow, and he is currently pursuing an MRes in Caribbean Studies at the University of Warwick, with a focus on the material culture of the colonized Caribbean. in the 18th century. In 2021, Kit was invited to take part in a two-year distance residency sponsored by the Yale Center for British Arts and the Terra Foundation focusing on Atlantic Worlds; Visual cultures of colonialism, slavery and racism.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be joining the Art Institute, especially at this time,” Maxwell shared. “The challenges of presenting historical European applied arts to diverse contemporary audiences have perhaps never been greater, but I believe they also come with opportunities for sound scholarship, critical reflection, new perspectives , collaboration and expansion of collections in engaging and thought-provoking ways. Led by Ellenor Alcorn, I am thrilled to join a department of such accomplished and experienced colleagues whose expertise and curiosity provide a strong and inspiring foundation from which to reflect in depth on the applied arts in Europe and their potential within the museum of the 21st century.”

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