Prince, Sue Ann Chercheur invitée dans le programme "Autour de Dezallier d'Argenville : écrire, collectionner, classer à l'époque moderne" (mai-juin 2011)


Born and raised in a small Midwestern town, I was sent to the University of Illinois for my post-high-school studies. There I discovered the intellectual life—and fell in love with the French language. I not only spent my junior year in Paris but returned to France two years later on a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a Master's Degree in French language and literature through Middlebury College's program at the Sorbonne. Though studying literature at the university, I found myself spending many hours in the Louvre, in the Jeu de Paume (where the Impressionists were then exhibited), and at numerous other museums, discovering yet another world I had never known before. I also hitch-hiked all over Europe, exploring everything from Romanesque churches to Greek temples. By the time I finished my Master's Degree in the tumultuous Paris spring of 1968—a formative experience in itself—I knew that I wanted to pursue a doctorate in the history of art. I ended up in Seattle, Washington, however, was married, and had two children before I was able to begin a second master's degree program at the University of Washington (State). I soon became a freelance arts writer, then served as art critic for The Seattle Times and implemented an oral history project on Northwest artists for the Archives of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution. I then moved across the country to become Midwest Regional Director for the Archives of American Art. Following that position, I was appointed Director of Public Relations for the National Portrait Gallery/Smithsonian in Washington D.C. Once my children were in their teens, I received a full scholarship from the University of Pennsylvania for my doctoral studies, and I was finally able to pursue my dream. I received a Women's Studies Certificate in 1996 and my doctoral degree in the history of art in 1997, and then taught at the University of Pennsylvania before becoming Founding Director of the American Philosophical Society Museum in Philadelphia.

Bibliographie restreinte

  • Lorraine Daston, Peter Galison, Objectivity. Boston : Zone, Books, 2007 ; Things that Talk…, Zone Books,2004.
  • Caroline A. Jones, Peter Galison and Amy Slaton, eds. Picturing Science, Producing Art. New York : Routledge, 1998.
  • Peter J.T. Morris and Klaus Staubermann, eds. Illuminating instruments. Washington, DC : Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press ; Lanham, Md. : In cooperation with Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010.
  • Ann B. Shteir and Bernard Lightman, eds. Figuring it out : science, gender and visual culture. Hanover, N.H : Dartmouth College Press, 2006.
  • Stephen Wilson. Art + Science Now. London : Thompson & Hudson, 2010.

Brief Bibliography on Interdisciplinarity, English language only Books

  • Caterina Albano. “Displaying Lives : The Narrative of Objects in Biographical Exhibitions.” Museum and Society vol. 5, no. 1 (March 2007) : 15-28.
  • Michael J. Felton and Rachel A. Petkewich. “Scientists Create Bonds with Artists,” Analytical Chemistry vol. 76, no. 7 (April 2003) : 166-73A.
  • Jennifer Tucker. “The Historian, the Picture, and the Archive.” Isis 97 (2006) : 111-20.


  • Pamela Bannos and Farhad Zadeh. Imaging and Imagining Space : A Collaboration Between Art and Science, Mary Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University.
  • “The Disciplines,” Critical Inquiry 35 (Summer 2009). Multiple articles.


Projet de recherche : Interdisciplinarity

In 2000 I was engaged by the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia to found a new museum. I established an interdisciplinary mission for the museum, based on the collections at the Society. That mission is "to explore the intersections of history, art, and science through rotating exhibitions, public programs, and educational outreach, and to relate the historical materials to contemporary issues today." To that end, I curate interdisciplinary exhibitions that unite and probe the meaning of scientific artifacts and visual culture, and I develop multi-faceted ways to interpret the historical materials through commissioned contemporary artistic expression (music, visual art, poetry, theater, etc.).

My project as a visiting researcher at INHA will be to step back from my day-to-day responsibilities as Founding Director of the APS Museum and to do research that explores interdisciplinarity in academic scholarship and in museum work, with a focus on the histories of art and science. As the demands of my position and the lack of funds for professional development have allowed little time to explore and learn about other interdisciplinary initiatives, I am eager to review the current literature, learn from colleagues at INHA, and put my own work in context.

For my research at INHA, my point of departure will be to explore what constitutes “interdisciplinarity” in general, and the intersections of the histories, sociologies, and philosophies of science and art in particular. I am familiar with some of the literature on the subject in English-language publications and am eager to discover the current discourse in French-language sources and in other cultural contexts. I will start by exploring studies of historical relationships between artistic and scientific activities, as embodied in a person or a practice ; contemporary collaborations between scientists and artists ; historiographic studies that compare/contrast the philosophies and methodologies in the history of art and the history of science ; current interdisciplinary approaches and methodologies used by historians and curators in researching, writing, and mounting exhibitions about the past ; current literature about activities in contemporary museum practice that may not pertain to science and art but that might offer useful insights ; museum studies literature that addresses specific challenges and questions that arise in museum work, such as the goals of interdisciplinarity in the context of the broad audiences that museums serve, from scholars to tourists.

As I envision the experience at INHA as a collegial, collaborative process among colleagues and a rich opportunity for self-reflectivity, I look forward to exchanging ideas with Anne Lafont about her own work and the collaborative, interdisciplinary group she has formed to explore Dezallier d'Argenville. I would also like to discuss my work in founding and directing the museum in order to get feedback and critique from colleagues that will help me assess my work in relationship to a broader context, and then use what I learn to inform my own practice as a curator and a historian of art. Ultimately I would like to contribute to the discourse on interdisciplinarity, especially in the museum setting. Research and collaboration at INHA will provide a basis for writing an essay on interdisciplinarity, one that could potentially develop both theoretical implications and practical applications, while also addressing the particular challenges it brings to curatorial practice.