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University Curator

Creating a new portrait of Sarah Doyle for Sayles Hall, from the original in the RISD Museum Re-installing "The Golden Temple at Amritsar" by Edwin Lord Weeks in the Annmary Brown Memorial after conservation and re-framing. The painting is so large that the new frame could not fit through the door and had to be constructed in the gallery. Teaching in the President's house with Brown's historic Gorham silver tea service. Protecting portraits during installation of a new projection screen in Sayles Hall The Annmary Brown Memorial Collection painting "English Landscape" by Julius Caesar Ibbetson before restoration. The Annmary Brown Memorial Collection painting "English Landscape" by Julius Caesar Ibbetson during restoration. Paintings conservator Gay Myers has removed layers of grime and discolored varnish from the surface and is inpainting small areas of paint loss. Installing the painting "Milking Time" by Jacob Van Stry in a stairwell of the Annmary Brown Memorial after conservation. Documenting the condition of a bronze bas relief portrait of William Williams Keen by R. Tait McKenzie in the John Hay Library before it was removed for conservation and reinstalled in Brown's Alpert Medical School. (Photographer Lindsay Elgin) A bronze bas relief portrait of William Williams Keen by R. Tait McKenzie in the John Hay Library being removed for conservation. New York City paintings conservator and Brown parent Rustin Levenson inpainting small areas of paint loss after cleaning the portrait of John D. Rockefeller in the lobby of the Rockefeller Library. (Photographer Ben Tyler) The Public Arts Committee exhibited Isamu Noguchi's stone sculpture "To Tallness" on the Main Green. Portrait artist Warren Prosperi working on a study for the Sayles Hall portrait of Brown President Vartan Gregorian. After 74 years the donor plaque for Metcalf Research Lab was covered with grime, dried metal polish, and flecks of ceiling paint. (Photo by Peter Fox). The Metcalf Research Lab plaque as restored in 2012 by metal objects conservator Newmans, Ltd. (Photo by Howard Newman).


The position of University Curator was introduced by President Vartan Gregorian in 1995 to provide oversight for the artworks and cultural properties used to furnish the 225 buildings on the Brown campus. The University Libraries, the David Winton Bell Art Gallery, the Joukowsky Institute, the John Nicholas Brown Center, the John Carter Brown Library, the Ladd Observatory, the Granoff Center, and the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology each oversees the collections in its buildings; and the Public Art Committee, a sub-committee of the Trustee Committee on Facilities and Design, is responsible for public sculpture. Otherwise curatorial care for the acquisition, cataloguing, conservation, and exhibition of art properties and historical collections on campus is the responsibility of the University Curator.

The University Curator staffs the Committee on Campus Collections, whose members advise and consent on the management of artworks and cultural property used to furnish campus buildings. Some of those collections can be viewed at the following sites:

The University Curator sits on the Public Art Committee, the Slavery Memorial Committee, the Bell Gallery Committee, and the Board of the Friends of the Haffenreffer Museum.

The current University Curator is Robert P. Emlen, Senior Lecturer in the Department of American Studies and Adjunct Faculty in the History of Art and Visual Culture at the Rhode Island School of Design, He uses the campus collections to teach “Topics in Material Culture Studies.” These courses include:

  • AMST 0125a Houses and their Furnishings in Early America
  • AMST 0125b Gravestones and Burying Grounds
  • AMST 0125c American Folk Art
  • AMST 0125d The Neoclassical Ideal in Early America
  • AMST 0125g The Arts and Crafts Movement in America