| Massumeh Farhad

Massumeh Farhad


Chief Curator and Curator of Islamic Art


Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution


Massumeh Farhad, currently Associate Curator of Islamic Art at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries, has been appointed to a dual position there as Chief Curator and Curator of Islamic Art. Massumeh Farhad was educated at Wellesley College, and Harvard University from which she received a Ph.D. in Islamic Art History. She was artistic director of the Zamana Gallery, London and a Research Assistant/Associate at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. before taking a post as Research and Coordinating Curator at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the National Museum of African Art. She has been Associate Curator of Islamic Art at the Freer and Sackler galleries since 1995 and served as Coordinating Curator for the departments of Islamic Art, and South Asian Art and Ancient Near Eastern Art from 2000 to 2002. Farhad has curated and co-curated innumerable exhibitions at the Freer and Sackler galleries and at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Harvard and has contributed extensively to the scholarly literature on the subject of Islamic art. A frequent lecturer, Farhad is fluent in German, French, and Persian, and is on the editorial boards of Ars Orientalis and Muqarnas. She has served as President of the Historians of Islamic Art and is an Institutional Trustee for the American Institute for Iranian Studies.

Selected Publications

Falnama: The Book of Omens with Serpil Bağcı, Washington DC: Freer Gallery of Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2009.

“Isfahan XI. School of Painting and Calligraphy,” in Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. 13 (2007), pp. 40-43.

“Arts of the Islamic World,” Arts of Asia (2006).

Slaves of the Shah: New Elites of Safavid Iran, with Susan Babaie, Kathryn Babayan, Ina Baghdiantz-McCabe, London: I.B. Tauris, 2004.

“Esfahan School of Painting,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. 11, in press 2003.

“‘Searching for the New’: Later Safavid Painting and the Suz u Gawdaz (Burning and Melting) by Nau‘i Khabushani,” in The Journal of the Walters Art Museum, no. 59 (2001), pp. 115-129.

Asian Traditions in Clay: The Hauge Gifts, with Cort, L. and Gunter, A., Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC., 2000.

Arts of the Islamic World in Beyond the Legacy. Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. 1998.

Contributions to Sultan Ibrahim Mirza's Haft Awrang: A Deluxe Manuscript from Sixteenth Century Iran by Marianna Shreve Simpson. Freer Gallery of Art, 1997.


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