Dr Kate Nichols is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Birmingham. She joined Birmingham’s Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies in 2015, from a postdoctoral fellowship at CRASSH (Cambridge). After completing her PhD at Birkbeck College London in 2009, she was awarded postdoctoral fellowships by the Henry Moore Foundation and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and held teaching fellowships at the Universities of York and Bristol. In 2017 she was a Universitas 21 Visiting Fellow at the University of Melbourne.
Research, Publications and Impact Activities
Kate’s first book, Greece and Rome at the Crystal Palace: Classical Sculpture and Modern Britain, 1854-1936, was published by Oxford University Press in 2015. It examines the social, political, and aesthetic role of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture in modern Britain, the first in-depth assessment of how classical art figured in debates over design reform, taste, beauty and morality, class and gender, and race and imperialism. She has published essays on nineteenth-century visual culture in journals including: Art History; 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century; Journal of Victorian Culture; Sculpture Journal, and Feminist Theory. She is co-editor of several edited collections, most recently the ‘Victorian Arts’ volume of the Routledge primary source reader Victorian Material Culture, with Dr Victoria Mills (Birkbeck College London). A list of publications since 2014 can be found here: https://research.birmingham.ac.uk/en/persons/kate-nichols/publications/
Kate is co-convenor (with Dr Sabrina Rahman, Exeter, and Victoria Osborne, Birmingham Museums Trust) of the British Art Network Research Group ‘Race, Empire and the Pre-Raphaelites’, which brings together museums holding Pre-Raphaelite and Arts & Crafts collections with academics and artists working in related fields to consider these objects’ global contexts, particularly in relation to Orientalism and Empire. By using Birmingham’s rich collections as a starting point, the network aims to facilitate wider conversations about how Pre-Raphaelite and Arts & Crafts material might be displayed and interpreted for twenty-first century museum visitors. A resource pack for museum practitioners emerging from this project will be launched in November 2023 at the Museums Association Annual Conference. For more information, please see the project blog: https://raceempireprb.wordpress.com/
Belcher Visiting Fellowship
Kate will be Belcher Visiting Fellow in Victorian Studies for the academic year 2023/24. She will be working on her book project A Global History of Victorian Painting: Circulations and the Making of British Art. Art made in Britain in the nineteenth century would not have been possible without a globe-spanning, empire-facilitated network of commodities, transport, people, animals, and museums. A Global History of Victorian Painting rethinks ‘Victorian’ art histories to include the models (human and animal), materials, vast time scales, scattered geographies, varied mobilities and imperial power structures embodied in four case study paintings. How did the acquisition and display of art works in museums and International Exhibitions foster notions of British cultural and racial identities both ‘at home’ and in the Empire? And how do these global connections transform our understandings of what we call ‘British’ art?