Michael Chagnon

Status-only Appointment, NMC and Curator, Aga Khan Museum



Michael Chagnon is a museum curator specializing in painting and the arts of the book from the early modern Persianate sphere. He was appointed Curator at the Aga Khan Museum in May 2019, where he has curated numerous acclaimed exhibitions, including Rumi: A Visual Journey through the Life and Legacy of a Sufi Poet (2023), Hakan Topal: The Golden Cage (2022), Remastered (2020-21), and Ekow Nimako / Building Black: Civilizations (2019-20). Dr. Chagnon has previously held curatorial posts at the Brooklyn Museum, LACMA, and Japan Society, and served in curatorial capacities for exhibitions at New-York Historical Society and Asia Society Museum.

In addition to curatorial and museum work, Dr. Chagnon's teaching experience includes a graduate seminar on “Critical Approaches to Persianate Painting” at Columbia University (Spring 2019); a master-class series on Islamic manuscripts at the New York Public Library (2018); and surveys of Islamic art at City College of New York (2009-10), Montclair State University, New Jersey (2009), and the College of New Rochelle, New York (2008).

Dr. Chagnon's recent publications include the exhibition catalogue Rumi: A Visual Journey through the Life and Legacy of a Sufi Poet (2023), and the essays “Interpreting a Later Safavid Vase: Between Material, Object, and Image,” in Regime Change: New Horizons in Islamic Art and Visual Culture (London: Ginko, 2024); and “Flirting with the Radical: Intertextuality, Intervisuality, and Gendered Subversions in Manuscripts of Sūz u Gudāz,” in the Journal of Material Cultures in the Muslim World (2021).  His essay “Riza 'Abbasi and the Embedded Image” is forthcoming (2024).

Dr. Chagnon received his PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University in 2015, with a dissertation titled “The Illustrated Manuscript Tradition in Iran, 1040s/1630s-1070s/1660s: Patronage, Production, and Poetics in the Age of the ‘Fresh Style.’”


PhD, New York University