Academic expansion

The Courtauld has undergone significant change under Professor Swallow’s direction and has continued to grow in international reputation and influence. Student enrolment has steadily increased while maintaining the exceptional quality and small group teaching for which it is known.

A key focus for Professor Swallow has been the expansion and diversification of The Courtauld’s faculty, research, and curriculum. These advances include the arts of Iran and the Islamic world, Chinese and Buddhist art, and Black art histories. The curriculum also expanded to include the popular MA Curating the Art Museum (est. 2007) and MA Art History and Conservation of Buddhist Heritage (est. 2013). As a result, The Courtauld faculty is now the largest concentrated community of art historians and conservators in the UK.

While steering curriculum developments, Deborah has also overseen considerable investment into innovation and dissemination of the faculty’s world-leading research. The Courtauld has performed at the highest level in successive Research Excellence Framework assessments – a nationwide exercise that measures the quality and impact of research in UK universities – and has been consistently assessed as ‘world-leading’.

Throughout her time as Director, Deborah has sought to expand The Courtauld’s work through strategic relationships, including the relationship with the Getty which was influential in The Courtauld’s move to independence in 2002. Other important collaborations include the State Hermitage Museum (The Courtauld managed the Hermitage Rooms for five years); the Mehrangarh Museum Trust in Jodhpur Rajasthan; and more recently, a National Partnership programme with UK institutions associated with Courtauld Ltd industrial past. In 2022, The Courtauld began a ten-year strategic relationship with King’s College London.

‘Professor Swallow’s leadership at The Courtauld has been transformative. She arrived in 2004 with an exciting vision to move the institution from its Euro-centric focus to a global institution, rooted in traditions of excellence. With her signature graciousness and inclusivity, Deborah expanded The Courtauld’s donor base and network of scholars and supporters to ensure the institution’s relevance and sustainability. As a Courtauld alumna, it has been a joy to watch the institution expand its service to scholars, artists, and the public during Deborah’s tenure.’

Kaywin Feldman (MA 1991), Director, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC