Susan J. Bandes

Professor, Museum Studies, Art History & Visual Culture

320 Kresge Art Center, East Lansing, MI 48824

517-884-2901 |


Susan J. Bandes is Professor of Art History and Visual Culture. She grew up in New York, attended New York University as an undergraduate and received her MA and PhD degrees from Bryn Mawr College, specializing in Roman Baroque painting. She served as Director of MSU’s Kresge Art Museum (now the Broad Art Museum) from 1986 until 2010 where she curated numerous exhibitions and wrote many catalogues. Among these are: Affordable Dreams: The Goetsch-Winkler House and Frank Lloyd Wright, an exhibition and subsequent edited book on the local Usonian house’s 50th anniversary in 1990; WPA in Michigan, and American Modernism. She teaches Renaissance and Baroque Art, Modern Architecture and Curatorial Practices. She served as Director of Museum Studies for many years. She is a member of the Print Council of America, a founding director of DOCOMOMO-Michigan, and is a frequent assessor and accreditor for the American Alliance of Museums.


My research interests cover a broad arena from Old Master prints to American painting and sculpture of the 1930s and 40s. My most recent research explores mid-Michigan’s modernist architecture, which I explored in a course, exhibitions at the MSU Museum (East Lansing Modern, 1940-1970) and at the Michigan History Museum (Minds of Modernism: Michigan and Mid-Century Design, 2017). My publication, Mid-Michigan Modern: From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie, MSU Press, 2016, won several awards and I am currently working on an expanded edition, to be published as a paperback in 2021.

This research extends my interests in American modernists including a publication on the paintings of Abraham Rattner, especially from his forgotten Paris years to the height of his popularity in the 1940’s, and articles on several Michigan WPA painters, such as Frank Cassara and Edgar Yaegar, plus explorations of the sculptors who worked at the Century of Progress Worlds Fair in Chicago in 1933 and 1934, including John Storrs and Gaston Lachaise. I am committed to disseminating my research to a broad audience. To that end, I created walking tours of the MSU campus of WPA art and Pewabic Pottery, as well as a driving and biking tour of East Lansing Modern, all downloadable from the internet. I am a frequent lecturer on Michigan modern as well.

in the news

Professor Receives State History Award

Class Provides Hands-On Experience in Museum Curation