Curator of Anthropology
Dr. Van Tuerenhout joined the Museum staff full-time in 1999.Dirk Van Tuerenhout, Ph.D., Curator of Anthropology Dr. Van Tuerenhout is an expert in human cultures, especially those of Latin America, and is well versed in most areas of archaeology and anthropology. He curated the world premiere exhibition, Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia, which features the fossilized remains of the hominid primate known as Lucy as well as over 5 million years of Ethiopian history. He is currently working on an exhibit on the Maya, to open in 2012.
He also takes care of the John P. McGovern Hall of the Americas, which showcases the Museum’s permanent collection of artifacts from the indigenous cultures of North and South America. He is the curator of Vanishing Worlds: Art and Ritual in Amazonia, a traveling exhibition of the world’s finest Amazonian feather art. Dr. Van Tuerenhout regularly serves as curator of traveling exhibitions such as The Dead Sea Scrolls (2004), Mummy: The Inside Story (2005) and Imperial Rome (2007), and most recently, Secrets of the Silk Road (2010).
“The real stars behind the objects museums display are the people who made them,” said Van Tuerenhout. “If you were Aztec, what would your name have been? What would you have eaten, and how would you have gotten it? How would you explain the world around you? The answers to questions like these provide fascinating insight into what it means to be human.”
Dr. Van Tuerenhout has a Masters degree in Ancient History and another in Art History and Archaeology, both from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, as well as a Masters degree and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Tulane University. He authored a book on the Aztecs, and he speaks five languages, including English, Spanish, Dutch, French and German.