Thomas Cummins is The Dumbarton Oaks Professor of the History of Pre-Columbian and Colonial Art. He has a Ph.D. from UCLA, 1988. He taught for eleven years at the University of Chicago and was the Director of The Center of Latin American Studies from 1998-2001. He was also the acting Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University 2003-04. He has lived and taught in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
His research and teaching focuses on Pre-Columbian and Latin American Colonial Art. Recent research interests include the analysis of early Ecuadorian ceramic figurines (Huellas del Pasado: Los Sellos de Jama-Coaque Banco Central del Ecuador) and the study of late Pre-Columbian systems of knowledge and representation, especially Inka, and their impact on the formation of 16th and 17th century colonial artistic and social forms (Toasts with the Inca: Andean Abstraction and Colonial Images on Kero Vessels University of Michigan Press and Native Traditions in the Colonial World Dumbarton Oaks). He has also published essays on New World town planning, the early images of the Inca, miraculous images in Colombia, and on the relationship between visual and alphabetic literacy in the conversion of Indians. Most recently, he collaborated with a team of scholars at the Getty Research Institute to study two illustrated manuscripts from 17th-century Peru. One edited volume has already been published The Getty Murúa: Essays on the making of Martín de Murúa’s “Historia General del Piru” J. Paul Getty Museum Ms. XIII 16 Thomas B. F. Cummins and Barbara Anderson eds., Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2008. He is also the Chair of the ArtForum at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, which produces two or three exhibitions of emerging artists each year, has a speakers series, and symposia. All these activities are centered on bringing contemporary Latin American Art and artists to Harvard University. Recent speakers include Alfredo Jaar, Cuauhtémoc Medina, Guy Brett, Gabriel Orozco, and Melanie Smith. He also directs the M. Victor Leventritt Lectures dedicated to all periods of Latin American Art of the Harvard Art Museum. Recent speakers include Elizabeth Boone, Andrea Giunta, Joanne Pilsbury and Natalia Majluf.