Kristen Gulbransen

Assistant Professor of Art History and Visual Culture Studies

PhD (Art and Architectural History), University of Virginia, 2013
MA (Art and Architectural History), University of Virginia, 2007
BA (Art History & Business/Economics), University of California, Los Angeles, 2003

Areas of interest

South Asian art, architecture, and visual culture; portraiture; cultural exchange & cultural translation; historiography; museum studies; post-colonial theory. 


  • Introduction to Art History and Visual Culture Studies
  • Introduction to Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Museums and the Politics of Display
  • Buddhist Art of Asia
  • The Art of India
  • The Taj Mahal and Beyond: The Art of Mughal India
  • The Art of Colonial India


Prof. Gulbransen’s research examines the origins and development of the painted portrait genre in sixteenth and seventeenth century South Asia, addressing such topics as of Mughal-Rajput cultural exchange, historical representation and physiognomy, art and book collecting, political diplomacy and gift exchange, and the historiography of Indian painting classification and terminology. She has contributed essays on these topics to Artibus Asiae, South Asian Archaeology and Art (European Association for South Asian Archaeology and Art peer-reviewed conference proceedings), and Journal of the American Oriental Society. Prof. Gulbransen was assistant curator of the 2014-2015 exhibition Realms of Earth and Sky: Indian Painting from the 15th to the 19th Century (Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia; Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College; San Antonio Art Museum) and wrote several entries for the accompanying catalogue. Her most recent project investigates the ways in which South Asian art and culture, particularly architectural plaster casts of Indian monuments, were displayed in nineteenth century Europe. This research explores issues of authenticity and mechanical reproduction, the ethics of conservation and ownership, notions of vicarious travel and colonial spectacle, Indian design and the Arts and Crafts Movement, the educational role of the museum, and historical scholarship on South Asian artistic and religious traditions. Various funding sources have supported Prof. Gulbransen’s work, including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Program, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.