Wayne State University

Jeffrey Abt

Jeffrey Abt

  • 3118 Old Main

  • Professor, Painting and Drawing


Jeffrey Abt received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Drake University and studied at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem. He first went into curatorial and exhibitions work at the Wichita Art Museum, then in the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago and finally at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art before coming to Wayne State University. He has exhibited his artwork throughout the United States and abroad in commercial and university galleries, and his paintings and drawings are in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Des Moines Art Center, the Minnesota Museum of American Art and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, as well as several private institutional collections, including Dow Automotive, Polk Technologies and the Federal Reserve Bank.

Abt also is a writer, focusing on museum history and criticism. His book, A Museum on the Verge: A Socioeconomic History of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1882-2000, published by Wayne State University Press, received the 2002 Award of Merit from the Historical Society of Michigan. Another book, American Egyptologist: The Life of James Henry Breasted and the Creation of His Oriental Institute, published by University of Chicago Press in 2012, was reviewed in over twenty general-interest and scholarly print and online publications including The New Yorker magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and Nature. His next book, on the Detroit Institute of Arts and its role in the City of Detroit bankruptcy, Valuing Detroit’s Art Museum: A History of Fiscal Abandonment and Rescue, will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017.

In Wayne State’s James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History, Abt teaches regularly scheduled courses at the undergraduate level in drawing, painting, and museum studies; and he accepts directed study proposals from undergraduates and supervises undergraduate research projects. He periodically teaches a senior seminar in the visual arts and he is an active advisor and review committee member in the department’s graduate program.

Wandering Gallery project (summer 2007), 22.25" x 16" x 8" (closed), 57" x 24" x 12" (open), multiple media, 2008.

Wandering Gallery project (workspace), 12" x 15.5" x 3.25" (closed), 49" x 29.25" x 3.5" (open), multiple media, 2013.

Wandering Gallery project (subliminalarium), 16" x 8" x 6.5” (closed), 16" x 12" x 12.5" (open) [plus insert, if removed, 15.25" x 7" x 3”, multiple media, 2015.