Art + Architecture — Gender and Sexualities Studies — Jewish Studies & Social Justice — Museum Studies
Paula J Birnbaum

Paula J Birnbaum

Associate Professor and Academic Director

Paula Birnbaum is Associate Professor of Arts History/Arts Management and Academic Director of the Museum Studies Master of Arts Program at USF. Paula is a specialist in modern and contemporary art and holds a doctorate in Art History from Bryn Mawr College. She is a former Fulbright Scholar and fellow at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University. In 2014 Paula received the University of San Francisco, Faculty Union (USFFA) Distinguished Research Award (university wide award), and in 2008 she received the Distinguished Teaching Award.  She enjoys teaching a variety of classes including the introductory graduate course, Museum Studies - History and Theory, as well as undergraduate courses in Modern and Contemporary Art, European Art 1900-1945, Women and Art, and a new course on Israeli and Palestinian Art. She enjoys working with students on exhibition projects in USF's Thacher Gallery, and has supervised student internships since 2003 with educators from Bay Area Museums including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, SFMOMA, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, among many others.

Paula's research focuses on the impact of gender and ethnicity on modern and contemporary women artists and their self-representation, as well as the role of gender and sexuality in museum exhibitions. She has completed two books: Women Artists in Interwar France: Framing Femininities (Ashgate), and a co-edited anthology with Anna Novakov, Essays on Women's Artistic and Cultural Contributions 1919-1939 (Edwin Mellen). Her articles appear in a variety of journals including the Art Journal, Aurora, Woman's Art Journal, and The Royal Academy of Art Magazine. Other essays appear in the anthologies Diaspora and Modern Visual Culture (Routledge), The Modern Woman Revisited (Rutgers), Reconciling Art and Motherhood (Ashgate).

Current research projects include a series of articles on contemporary feminist art in the Middle East, and an essay on street art on the separation barrier between Israel and Palestine. Dr. Birnbaum is also completing a monograph on Chana Orloff (1888-1968), a prolific sculptor who made her career in France and Israel.




Ph.D., History of Art, Bryn Mawr College
M.A., History of Art, Bryn Mawr College
B.A., History of Art & French Literature, Bowdoin College

Administrative Appointments

Academic Director, Master of Arts, Museum Studies

Courses Offered
  • Museum Studies: History & Theory
  • Survey of Western Art History 2
  • Modern & Contemporary Art
  • Women & Art
  • Israeli & Palestinian Art
  • Museum Studies 1
  • Arts Management Internship Course
Awards and Distinctions

2014 Distinguished Research Award

2008 Distinguished Teaching Award