Assistant Professor, Art History, Theory, and Criticism (2012). BA, 1998, Brown University, Providence, RI; MA, 2005, Parsons The New School for Design/Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York; Ph.D., 2011, The University of Delaware, Newark. PublicationsWinterthur Portfolio, American Studies, Design and Culture, BOOM: A Journal of California. Awards: Mellon-ACLS Early Career Fellowship; Lemelson Center for the History of Innovation and Invention; Henry Belin Du Pont Dissertation Award, Hagley Museum and Library.

Personal Statement

Bess Williamson is a historian of design and material culture, focusing primarily on works and influences of the last half-century. She received her PhD in American History from the University of Delaware, and holds a Masters in the History of Design and Decorative Arts from Parsons The New School for Design/Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. She is particularly interested in social and political concerns in design, including environmental, labor, justice, and rights issues as they shape and are shaped by spaces and things. Her current book project, Designing an Accessible America, traces the history of design responses to disability rights from 1945 to recent times. Her writing has appeared in Winterthur Portfolio and American Studies, with reviews in Design and Culture and Design Issues.

At SAIC, Williamson teaches a range of design history courses, from introductory surveys of modern design history to graduate seminars on issues in design, politics, and technology. She is the coordinator of design history offerings in SAIC’s Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism.

Current publications and news can be found on her page.

Thesis Advisees

  • Denise Marie Bennett (Dual 2015): Architecture as Experience: Haus-Rucker-Co.'s Speculative Objects and Environments, 1968-1972


Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.