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Lynda Nead

  • Overview



    Lynda Nead joined the Department of History of Art at Birkbeck in 1986 and was appointed to the Pevsner Chair of History of Art in 2004. Before coming to Birkbeck, she taught History of Art at the University of Leicester and the University of Kent. Lynda has also been a Visiting Professor at Gresham College, London and Moore Distinguished Professor, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology.

    She is actively involved in the work of museums and galleries: Member of the Museum of London Academic Advisory Board; Member of the English Heritage Blue Plaques Panel; Member of the Modern and Contemporary Advisory Committee, National Gallery London. She was also a Trustee of the Victoria & Albert Museum and is currently a Trustee of the Holburne Museum in Bath and of Campaign for the Arts, a charitable organisation that works to defend and expand access to the arts and culture.

    She was elected a Member of the Academia Europaea in 2013 (MAE); a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2017 (FRHistS); and a Fellow of the British Academy in 2018 (FBA).

    She has been the Director of Postgraduate Studies for History of Art and is responsible for all elements of the curriculum for postgraduate research students. She is also on the Steering Group of the Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image (BIMI). Lynda was co-founder with Patrizia di Bello of the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre at Birkbeck. 

    Her research has explored a wide range of issues relating to the history of British art and culture. She has been awarded funding by the Leverhulme Trust and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. She has also worked as a curator on the 2016 exhibition, 'The Fallen Woman', which was held at the Foundling Museum, London, 2016-17. Her current research project is called 'British Blonde: Women, Desire and the Image in Post-War Britain.'


    • Lynda will be a Visiting Professor at the Bard Graduate Center, New York in May 2024.

    • Listen to Lynda on 'Being Blonde' on Free Thinking BBC Radio 3, 12th October 2023

    • Lynda Nead has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship from January - December 2023. 

    • Lynda Nead is giving the Paul Mellon lectures at the Victoria & Albert Museum on Wednesday evenings at 6.30 from October 18th to November 15th. The theme of the series is 'British Blonde: Women, Desire and the Image in Post-War Britain.' 

    • Listen to Lynda on 'Victorian Streets' on Free Thinking BBC Radio 3, 9 June 2022

    • Lynda Nead has been made a Fellow of the Association for Art History; an award introduced in 2020 to recognise significant contributions to the field of art history.


    • BA Hons Fine Art (1st Class), University of Leeds, 1979
    • PhD 'Representation and Regulation: Women and Sexuality in English Art, c.1840-1870.', University College London, 1986

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Director of Postgraduate Studies, Department of History of Art
    • School of Arts Representative Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image (BIMI) Steering Group

    Visiting posts

    • Moore Distinguished Professor, Division of the Humanities, Caltech, 04-2017 to 06-2017
    • Visiting Professor, Bard Graduate Center, 04-2024 to 06-2024
    • Visiting Professor of History of Art, Gresham College, London, 01-2013 to 09-2014

    Professional activities

    Member of the Council of Tate Britain (1999; renewed 2002-06)

    Member of the Research Committee, Tate Galleries (2000-03)

    Member of Museum of London Academic Panel (2002-08 and 2016- )

    Member of Paul Mellon Centre for British Art Advisory Council (2003-07 and 2017- )

    Member of the Leverhulme Trust Research Awards Advisory Committee (2005-12)

    Member of Exhibitions Group, Foundling Museum, London (2011- )

    Member of National Portrait Gallery Research Advisory Committee (2012-16)

    Elected Member of Association Internationale des Critiques d'Art (2013)

    Elected Member of the Academia Europaea (MAE, 2014); Member of Steering Committee for Musicology and Visual Arts Section

    Appointed Member of English Heritage Blue Plaques Panel (2015-20)

    Member of the Art and Design Subject Assessment Panel for the Research Assessment Exercise (REF) (2021-2)

    Appointed Trustee of the Victoria & Albert Museum (2016-20, renewed 2020)

    Elected Fellow of Royal Historical Society (MRHistS, 2017)

    Elected Fellow of British Academy (FBA, 2018)

    Member of the Modern and Contemporary Advisory Committee, National Gallery London (2019 - )

    Member of Leverhulme Trust Philip Leverhulme Prize Panel (2020, 2023)

    Elected Fellow of the Association for Art History (2022)

    Honours and awards

    • Member of the Academia Europaea, Academia Europaea, November 2014
    • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Royal Historical Society, November 2017
    • Fellow of the British Academy, British Academy, November 2018
    • Fellow of the Association for Art History, Association for Art History, March 2022
  • Research


    Research interests

    • Gender and the City
    • Art and Law
    • The Visual Culture of Sport
    • Post-War British Art and Culture
    • Victorian Art and Culture

    Research overview

    Lynda Nead's research has explored a wide range of issues relating to gender, the city, the body, art and culture. It is interdisciplinary and draws on a wide range of visual culture including paintings, prints, photography and film. She has published books on Victorian visual culture; the history and theory of the female nude; contemporary art; optical technologies c. 1900 and post-war British art and culture.

    Her current project is a book called 'British Blonde: Women, Desire and the Image in Post-War Britain' and takes the lives and work of four women as prompts for a broader examination of gender, sexuality and commodification in the period. The case-studies are: Diana Dors; Ruth Ellis; Barbara Windsor; and Pauline Boty.

    Lynda's next book project is for the BFI Classics series and is a study of It Always Rains on Sunday (UK, 1947; dir. Robert Hamer).

    Research Centres and Institutes

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I welcome inquiries from prospective PhD students who are interested in undertaking research in any of my areas of research interest.

    Current doctoral researchers


    Doctoral alumni since 2013-14



    I teach on the following BA History of Art modules:

    Research Projects and Dissertations

    Art and Society in the Nineteenth Century

    I currently teach on the following MA History of Art modules:

    Gender, Modernity and the City

    Inventing the Victorians


    I currently run the following MPhil/PhD modules:

    Research Skills

    Writing the Image/Object/Space

    Reading Group

  • Publications




    Book Section



  • Business and community

    Business and community


    I am happy to receive enquiries from the media on the following topics:

    • Reviews of exhibitions and displays
    • Reviews of films
    • Gender and culture


      I have a number of governance and research roles in major museums and galleries. 

      I am a regular contributor and reviewer on BBC radio and have appeared in arts and social history documentaries on BBC television and Sky Arts. 

      2013-14 - Visiting Professor of History of Art, Gresham College, London. Lecture Series: 'Women in Red and Men in Black: Art and Fashion in the Nineteenth Century.'

      2016 - 'Rethinking the Victorians.' Public lecture series, Plymouth University.

      2016 - 'Woman in a Dressing Gown: Women and Domesticity in Post-War Britain.' The Derek Jarman Annual Lecture, University of Kent.

      2016 - 'Once More the Fallen Woman.' Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.

      2018 - 'Greyscale and Colour: The Hues of Nation and Empire in Post-War Britain', Victoria & Albert Museum.

      2018 - 'The Question of Colour in Post-War Art and Design', Henry Moore Institute, Leeds.

      2020 - 'Art and Action: Lynda Nead in Conversation with Chila Kumari Singh Burman', Watts Gallery. (Online)

      2021-2 Advisor on 'Postwar Modern' exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, London.