Catherine Whalen

Faculty Member

Bard Graduate Center

Associate Professor


I specialize in the study of American material culture. My research interests include object-based cultural nationalism, the history and theory of collecting, US craft and design history, oral history, digital humanities, and material culture studies methodology and historiography. Currently I am co-developing an archive-based digital project that reexamines and expands upon Bard Graduate Center’s landmark exhibition Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000: Diversity and Difference. Recent projects include Voices in Studio Glass History: Art and Craft, Maker & Place, and the Critical Writings and Photography of Paul Hollister. This digital exhibition and archive reinterprets the history of postwar American studio glass from the perspective of this influential critic and historian, alongside new interviews with over fifty artists, curators, critics, historians, and gallerists. I also direct the Bard Graduate Center Craft and Design Oral History Project, a digital archive of interviews with contemporary craftspeople and designers conducted by graduate students in the seminar Craft and Design in the USA., 1945-present. Recent publications include “Collecting as Historical Practice and the Conundrum of the Unmoored Object” in the Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture, edited by Ivan Gaskell and Sarah Anne Carter, which examines the often contentious process through which private collections enter into public institutions.