Celka Straughn

Celka Straughn
  • Lecturer, Museum Studies
  • Deputy Director for Public Practice, Curatorial and Research, Andrew W. Mellon Director of Academic Programs, Spencer Museum of Art

Contact Info

Spencer Museum of Art
1301 Mississippi St.
Lawrence, KS 66045


Since joining the Spencer Museum of Art in 2009, Celka Straughn has worked to integrate the museum into the mission of the university, while integrating university teaching, learning, research and other activities into the museum's practices. She also teaches courses for KU’s Honors Program and Undergraduate Studies, and is affiliate faculty in German Studies and Museum Studies. Her doctoral dissertation (University of Chicago, 2007) and related publications examine Jewish art and Expressionism in early 20th-century Germany. 

To commemorate the centenary of the museum’s founding collection and to reconsider collecting practices and motivations, she organized the exhibition Civic Leader and Art Collector: Sallie Casey Thayer and an Art Museum for KU (2017). An edited volume builds on research and ideas generated by the exhibition (2020). Additional Spencer exhibition projects include American Dream, a student-generated exhibition with Ellen Raimond in conjunction with the 2016 KU Common Book (2017); Politics as Symbol/Symbol as Politics (2012) with Burdett Loomis, professor of political science; and Media Memes: Images, Technology & Making the News (2010) with Michael Williams, associate professor of journalism, and Luke Jordan, lecturer in visual art. She also organized the artist residency and exhibition by Dan Perjovschi (2010).


Ph.D. in Art History, specialization in modern German and Jewish art, University of Chicago, 2007, Chicago, IL
M.A. in Art History, Courtauld Institute of Art, 1996, London, England
with distinction
B.A. in Art History, Stanford University, 1993, Stanford, CA


  • modern European art and artist networks
  • exhibition and collecting histories and practices
  • global museum discourses
  • social justice in museums
  • eco-critical art history