Robert Emlen

Robert P. Emlen is Part Time Faculty in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Culture, where, since 1984, he has taught “Topics in the Decorative Arts in America,” a series of courses about the cultural history of buildings and their furnishings. Recent topics include “The Decorative Arts of 18th Century Rhode Island,” “The Shaker Aesthetic,” “The Neoclassical Style in America, 1775-1850,” and “The Arts & Crafts Movement in America.”

He also holds an appointment as University Curator and Senior Lecturer at Brown University, where he teaches material culture studies in the Department of American Civilization and has curatorial responsibility for the art collections and historic properties furnishing the Brown campus. He is former Acting Associate Curator of Decorative Arts at the RISD Museum.

Academic research/areas of interest

Robert P. Emlen studies the material life and visual culture of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century America. He is the author of Shaker Village Views: Illustrated Maps and Landscape Drawings by Shaker Artists of the Nineteenth Century (University Press of New England) and publishes in the leading journals of American material culture. He is currently working on a study of how the Shakers were pictured in the popular illustrated press of nineteenth-century America.

  • BA, Lake Forest College
  • BA, Lake Forest College
  • MA, University of Vermont


Apparel Design Architecture Ceramics Digital + Media Experimental and Foundation Studies Film / Animation / Video Furniture Design Glass Graduate Studies Graphic Design History of Art + Visual Culture History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences Illustration Industrial Design Interior Architecture Jewelry + Metalsmithing Landscape Architecture Literary Arts + Studies Painting Photography Printmaking Sculpture Teaching + Learning in Art + Design Textiles