Tara Kuruvilla is an art historian specializing in the visual cultures of colonial South Asia. Her research and pedagogical interests encompass collecting and empire, art-historical historiography, and modern and contemporary South Asian art.
Tara is completing her PhD at Columbia University, where she earned an MA and MPhil in Art History and an MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies, following a BA in Art History from New York University. Her doctoral project, Disjecta Membra: The Dispersal and Afterlife of the India Museum, chronicles the existence and nachleben of the India Museum—a short-lived collection housed at the East India Company headquarters in London. Her dissertation contends that while much has been written on the amassing of objects and the building of colonial collections, little attention has been paid to the obverse act—their dissolution. In focusing on the afterlife rather than the inception of the institution, she advocates for a wider reframing of collecting histories.
As Collections Research Preceptor, Tara oversees and expands mentored undergraduate research opportunities at the Smart Museum of Art. Her pedagogy is rooted in object-centered study; she has taught a range of courses in Western and Indian art that bring her students into museums to engage directly with collections. In addition to her research and teaching experience, she has served on the Steering Committee for Columbia’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, on the Advisory Board of the Jio World Art Committee, and as a Curatorial Assistant of Contemporary Art at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai. She was the co-curator of a curious blindness at the Wallach Art Gallery, an exhibition that explored the politics of representation in “post-racial” America.
Image: New Indian Section, South Kensington Museum, From Illustrated London News, May 1880.