Michael Kwakkelstein, Ph.D.

kwaakCourses Taught at the Institute
Art History Special Topics: Leonardo da Vinci
Art History Special Topics: Michelangelo
Symbolism and Meaning in Renaissance Art (1300-1600)
History of Italian Art, II: Michelangelo to Bernini
Ancient Art: Image and Text (honors)
The Art of Florence in Context: Masters and Monuments


Leiden University, The Netherlands, Ph.D.
(Leonardo da Vinci as a Physiognomist, Theory and Drawing Practice) 1st Ed. Leiden 1994; 2nd Revised Edition Leiden 2014.
Professor of Art History, Utrecht University, The Netherlands (Since 2011)
Director of the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence (Since 2008)

Relevant Projects
Guest Curator Teyelers Museum (Haarlem, The Netherlands) of the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci as a Physiognomist. Exhibition of drawings, engravings and paintings (October 2018-January 2019).
Chief Curator Teylers Museum (Haarlem, 2005): Michelangelo drawings exhibition (in collaboration with the British Museum, London and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).
Rotterdam, The Kunsthal (1996): adviser exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: artist, scientist, inventor.
Professor of Art History, University of Amsterdam (2000-2002).
Haarlem, The Teylers Museum (2005): Curator of comprehensive Michelangelo Drawings Exhibition (in collaboration with the British Museum, London, and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).
Currently director of the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence and professor of Art History at Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Teaching Philosophy
I seek to ‘open’ the students’ eyes to the fascinating world of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to inspire enthusiasm for the multifarious aspects of Renaissance art and to further the development of critical thinking and judgment. The most memorable moments are realized when in class students get into lively debates and raise fresh, new questions concerning the matters under discussion.

Advice for Students

Overall, students should bring a desire to learn about Italy and Italian culture. They should appreciate that studying in Florence provides them with a unique opportunity to learn in and out of the classroom and satisfy that desire while traveling and meeting like-minded fellow students.