Laura Schiavo

Laura Schiavo

Laura Schiavo

Deputy Director, Corcoran; Associate Professor & Graduate Advisor, Museum Studies; Faculty Advisor Museum Studies Program


Email: Laura Schiavo


Before joining the Museum Studies faculty in 2009, Professor Schiavo, Ph.D. worked in museums in the DC area, including the City Museum, Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, and the National Building Museum, where she curated Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s. Over the past five years Professor Schiavo has partnered with the National Park Service on various student research projects and on a national symposium, Co-Creating Narratives in Public Spaces (2014). Her current research looks at the contemporary work of US museums in the field of civic engagement and the historic roots of that commitment, with an article forthcoming in a volume on the radical roots of public history. She has been published in the areas of visual culture, museums and diversity, and museums and identity, as well as contributing book and exhibition reviews to national publications. Professor Schiavo is currently working on an initiative to address the vital issue of the role of Museum Studies programs in the lack of racial, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity in the museum profession.


Current Research

  • “What To Do with Heritage: The Jewish Museum, 1931-1943,” submitted as part of edited collection on the radical roots of public history. Under consideration by Amherst College Press
  • Principal Investigator, Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystems Unit Task Agreement (cooperative agreement between the Department of the Interior/National Park Service and the George Washington University)
  • Historic Furnishing Report, Mary McLeod Bethune National Council Historic Site
  • Corcoran Faculty Research Group: Creativity and Social Action
  • Teaching interests: history and theory of museums; museums and civic engagement; collections management and collections policy



  • “‘White People Like Hiking’: Some Implications of NPS Narratives of Relevance and Diversity.” Public Historian (November 2016): 206-235.
  • “It's Valuable to Challenge Claims of 'Authenticity' (response to Ed Rothstein’s "The Problem with Jewish Museums") The Berman Jewish Policy Archive Stanford University Volume I.Issue I (March 1, 2016)
  • “Object Lessons: Making Meaning from Things in History Museum.” Exhibitionist A Journal published by the National Association for Museum Exhibition (NAME) 32(1) (Spring 2013):48-52.
  • “Modern Design Goes Public.” Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s. Ed. Robert Rydell and Laura Burd Schiavo. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010): 77-139.
  • “Reading the Image: Visual Culture as Print Culture and the Performance of a Bourgeois Self.” Cultural Narratives: Textuality and Performance in American Culture before 1900. Ed. Sandra M. Gustafson and Caroline F. Sloat. (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010): 319-140.
  • "National Building Museum". (London: Scala Publishers, 2007) James Goode and Laura Schiavo. "Washington Images: Rare Maps and Prints from the Albert H. Small Collection" (Bergamot Books, 2004).
  • “From Phantom Image to Perfect Vision: Physiological Optics, Commercial Photography, and the Popularization of the Stereoscope.” New Media, 1740-1915, Ed. Lisa Gitelman and Geoffrey Pingree (MIT Press, 2003)



BA Sociology, Wesleyan University
PhD American Studies, The George Washington University


Professional Organizations

  • National Council on Public History
  • American Alliance of Museums