Wednesday 12 July 2017

Bill Sherman Photo

Professor Bill Sherman, director of research and collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, has been appointed director of the Warburg Institute at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, with effect from 1 October.

The Warburg Institute, based in Woburn Square, is renowned across the world for the interdisciplinary study of cultural and intellectual history, particularly the role of images in culture. It is dedicated to research on the history of ideas, the dissemination and transformations of texts, ideas and images in society, and the relationship between images, art and their texts and subtexts.

Founded on the private library of art historian Aby Warburg at the turn of the 20th century, the institute houses a research library of international importance, a photographic collection organised according to a unique iconographic classification system and Aby Warburg’s archive, which also holds the papers of other major thinkers of the twentieth century who were connected to the Institute.

‘It’s a great honour to be appointed director of the Warburg’, said Professor Sherman. ‘It is my favourite library in the world, the ideal place to discover old and new things on virtually every subject. I look forward to building on the legacy of my predecessors, working with colleagues across the University of London and building new partnerships with institutions and individuals around the world’.

Professor Sherman holds a BA from Columbia University and MPhil and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge. He was founding director of the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the University of York from 2005 to 2011, and comes to the Warburg from the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he has served as director of the Collections division and head of the project creating a V&A Research Institute (VARI), leading the Museum’s programmes with partners in both the universities and the creative industries.

Professor Sherman’s research has been driven by a love of archives and other collections, and by an interest in how objects from the past come down to us and speak across time and space. He has published widely on the history of books and readers and on the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Best known for his books on marginalia (including John Dee and Used Books), much of his current work explores the interface between word and image, the relationship between knowledge and power and the surprising connections between the modern and the early modern. He was associate editor of Shakespeare Quarterly for more than a decade and sits on a number of editorial and advisory boards as well as a range of trusts and councils on both sides of the Atlantic.

Commenting on the appointment, Professor Sir Adrian Smith, vice-chancellor of the University of London said: 'I am very pleased to welcome Bill to the Warburg Institute. He brings expertise from academia and beyond and is joining the institute at a very exicting time in its development. I look forward to working with him to support the future of the Warburg.'

Professor Rick Rylance, dean-elect of the School of Advanced Study, said: ‘I am delighted that Bill will join us in the School of Advanced Study and doubly delighted that he will lead the Warburg into the next phase of its splendid history. He brings not only superb intellectual credentials and a wealth of experience, but also a vision for how the Institute’s work can develop. I very much look forward to working with him’.

Professor Sherman succeeds David Freedberg, who will continue his association with Warburg projects such as the Body and Image in Arts and Science, the Bilderfahrzeuge group, and collaborations with the Siobhan Davies Dance Company and the Institute of Philosophy’s Centre for Experimental Aesthetics, Technology and Engineering.

RELATED: Durham historian Jo Fox named new director of the Institute of Historical Research


Notes to Editors

For all enquiries, please contact Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations OfficerSAS, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8859 / Images available on request.

  1. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled resources, facilities and academic opportunities across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. Last year SAS welcomed 786 research fellows and associates, held 2,007 events highlighting the latest research in the humanities, received 24.4 million online visits to its research resources and platforms, and hosted 194,145 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads Being Human, the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.
  2. The Warburg Institute. The Warburg Institute, which is a constituent institute of the School of Advanced Study, University of London, is the premier institute for the study of cultural history and the role of images in culture. It is dedicated to the history of ideas, the dissemination and transformation of images in society, and the relationship between images, art, and their texts and subtexts, of all epochs and across the globe. Find out more at or @Warburg_News
  3. The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in higher education. Its members are 18 self-governing member institutions and nine research institutes of outstanding reputation. Learn more about the University of London at