Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dr. Noémie Etienne

Chair of Cultural Heritage Studies


Research Activities


Conservation Histories and Theories

I am interested in the practices and debates surrounding the production and conservation of art and cultural heritage. I regard them as sources that can illuminate the values defended by a social group of a specific time period in relation to an identity, a territory, and an object (material or immaterial). The practice of conservation is in itself a form of negotiation and a key resource to grasping how a community aims to construct its memory and identity. The study of controversies and conflicts also shows how values are produced during such potentially conflicting exchanges.


Rhapsodic Objects

Since 2016, I have been researching the notion of Rhapsodic Objects with the curator Yaëlle Biro and a community of colleagues. The idea is to underline that objects themselves are carriers of their own stories, from their making or reshaping during their material lives. Our ambition is to go beyond a study of their reception or entanglement and to focus on their materiality as a source of knowledge.


Museums and Displays

I study artworks and museums as political devices. Displays are key to understanding the implicit politics of exhibitions. Their fabrication and rearrangements are at the center of my research, with a strong focus on anthropological displays and colonial contexts. From this perspective, I also examine questions of collecting history, provenance, and restitution of artworks. Being myself an occasional curator, I value the making of exhibitions as a research tool for producing and sharing knowledge to a broad audience.

Areas of Research/Interest


Art, politics, and materiality

Conservation theories and practices

History of museums and exhibitions

History of collecting, provenance and restitution

Dioramas and anthropological displays

Exoticism and Orientalism

Curriculum Vitae


2016-2022: Swiss National Science Foundation Professor of Art History at the University of Bern

2020: Senior Research Fellowship, IKKM, Bauhaus-University, Weimar

2019: Senior Research Fellowship, Kunsthistorisches Institute in Florence, Max-Planck-Institute

2019: Visiting Professorship, University of Bielefeld

2018: Visiting Professorship, University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

2017: Habilitation, Venia Legendi for Art History at the University of Bern

2015-2016: Postdoctoral Fellow at the Getty Research Institute

2015-2013: Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

2013: Scientific Assistant, University of Zurich

2012: Visiting Scholar, New York University

2011: PhD, University of Geneva and University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

2011-2005: Scientific Assistant, University of Geneva

Phone Number: 0043 (1) 4277 67108

E-Mail: noemie.etienne@univie.ac.at

Room: O4.23