Leah Niederstadt

Assistant Professor of Museum Studies, Art History; Curator of the Permanent Collection


Watson 145

Wednesdays 8:30-10:30am or by appointment

(508) 286-3319


An anthropologist by training, I teach courses in museum studies and visual culture at Wheaton, where I also serve as Curator of the Permanent Collection. My research focuses on contemporary expressive culture in Ethiopia, where I have conducted fieldwork since 2000, and on the management and use of academic collections.


D.Phil., University of Oxford
Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies, University of Michigan
M.Phil., University of Oxford
B.A., University of Michigan


Refereed Articles
2018. “Building A Legacy for the Liberal Arts: Deaccessioning the Newell Bequest at Wheaton College.” In Is It Okay to Sell the Monet: The Age of Deaccessioning in Museums, edited by Julia Courtney. Roman & Littlefield: Lanham, MD.

2018.  “Visualizing Marriage in Northern Ethiopia: The Production and Consumption of Gama.” African Arts. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.

2014. “Digital Projects and the First Year Seminar: Making Blended Learning Work at a Small Liberal Arts College.” Transformations. National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education: Georgetown, TX. With Pete Coco

2011. “’I’m a rich man, how can I die?’: Circus Performance as a Means of HIV/AIDS Education in Ethiopia.” In The Culture of AIDS in Africa: Hope and Healing in Music and the Arts. Oxford University Press: Oxford, England

2011. “Ethiopia’s Vibrant Sacred Art.” One, Vol. 37 (2). Catholic Near East Welfare Association: New York, NY.

2009. “Beyond Wide-Eyed Angels: Contemporary Expressive Culture in Ethiopia.”African Arts. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA. With Peri M. Klemm.

2009. “Fighting HIV with Juggling Clubs: An Introduction to Ethiopia’s Circuses.” African Arts. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.

2002. “Of Kings and Cohorts: Representations of Gennain Ethiopian Popular Painting.” The International Journal of the History of Sports, Vol. 19, No. 1. Routledge: London, England.

Conference Proceedings
2009. “Collecting Art, Creating A Legacy: A History of the Wheaton College Permanent Collection.” The Problem of Sources in Women’s Memory. Women’s Library and Information Centre: Istanbul, Turkey. With Kayla Malouin.

2003. “Framing Images: The Evolution of a Narrative Format in Ethiopian Popular Painting.” Proceedings. 6thInternational Conference on the History of Ethiopian Art. IES, AAU: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

2002. “The Lion, the Letter and the Umbrella: Iconic Images of Ethiopia in Painted Representations of the Sheba-Solomon Story.” Proceedings. 14th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies. IES, AAU: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Audio Guides/Encyclopedia Entries/Exhibition Catalogues
2014. “Introduction” and “Modern and Contemporary Art.” Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, Volume 5. Harrassowitz Verlag: Wiesbaden, Germany.

2008. “Audio Guide for Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia.” Pacific Science Center, Seattle, WA.

2007. “Menor kebad new: Life and Work as a Young Ethiopian Artist.” Continuity and Change: Three Generations of Ethiopian Artists. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida: Gainesville, FL

2005. “Exhibition Catalogue.” Painting Ethiopia: The Life and Work of Qes Adamu Tesfaw. Fowler Museum, UCLA: Los Angeles, CA. With Raymond A. Silverman and Neal Sobania.

2002. “An Ethiopian Painting of the Sheba-Solomon Narrative.” Queen of Sheba: Treasures from Ancient Yemen. The British Museum: London, England.

Book Reviews
2010. “The Art of Small Things.” Journal of Museum Ethnography. Museum Ethnographers Group: Oxford, England.

2010. “A Kingly Craft.” African Arts. The James S. Coleman African Studies Center, University of California: Los Angeles, CA.

2007. “Art of Ethiopia.” Museum Anthropology. Folklore and Ethnomusicology Department, Indiana University: Bloomington, IN.

The cover of a volume on deaccessioning and museums, edited by Julia Courtney. My contribution explores the history of the Newell Bequest, the largest gift of artwork ever donated to Wheaton.
An image I took for my recent article on gama, wedding paintings from northeastern Ethiopia. It shows the artist Selam Berhane Gebre Iyasus and her father hold the painting she created for her wedding (Aksum, Ethiopia, 2016).