Dr. David Odo is the Director of Academic and Public Programs, Division Head and Research Curator at the Harvard Art Museums. He is a visual and material anthropologist, with primary research and teaching interests in the anthropology of art, especially early Japanese photography.
Odo teaches with the comprehensive collections of the Harvard Art Museums, where he works closely with colleagues from all divisions of the museums and faculty from across the university to provide students with opportunities to explore the collections. He oversees the Graduate Student Teacher Internship program, which trains students from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to teach high school students from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School with the museums' collections, and the undergraduate Student Guide program, which teaches Harvard College students to develop tours for museum visitors.
Students conduct in-depth, collections-based research, learn from curators and conservators, and develop their own tours/curricula to facilitate meaningful conversations about art. Bringing students out of the classroom and into the museums enables them to realize the value of studying original works of art within the context of their respective disciplines, which in turn helps the museums and our diverse audiences gain new perspectives on our collections.
Odo received his D.Phil. in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oxford, and his AB from Columbia University in East Asian Studies, and has held numerous research fellowships, including at Harvard University, the Freer and Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution, the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, and the University of Tokyo. His primary research and teaching interests are in the anthropology of art, and include early photography (especially of Japan), critical museology, and objects of colonial encounter. He has lectured and published widely on early Japanese photography, and has recently published a book related to this interest. His current project is a monograph about photography and history in Japan’s Ogasawara Islands, which examines photographs and other visual images related to the Japanese colonization of the islands and their cosmopolitan population from the 1830s until the present day.
Prior to his current position, Odo was Bradley Assistant Curator of Academic Affairs at the Yale University Art Gallery and Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, Yale University, and previously worked in television in Honolulu and Washington, D.C.