John Beardsley, Oberlander Prize Curator


John Beardsley, Oberlander Prize Curator

John Beardsley, Oberlander Prize Curator

The influential writer, curator, historian, and professor John Beardsley is the inaugural curator of the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize.  

The independent Curator is responsible for developing the prize’s intellectual content, will support the jury process, and will have a primary role in developing the public engagement activities focusing on the laureate(s). The public programs are key to reaching the goal of increasing the recognition, visibility, and legibility of landscape architecture as a global, cultural, and professional practice. 

An advisory board comprising no more than twelve people will assist the Curator. TCLF will provide the Curator’s administrative support.

About John Beardsley

Trained as an art historian, John Beardsley earned an A.B. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He is the author of numerous books on contemporary art and design, including Earthworks and Beyond: Contemporary Art in the Landscape (fourth edition, 2006) and Gardens of Revelation: Environments by Visionary Artists (1995), as well as many titles on recent landscape architecture. He has extensive teaching experience in the departments of landscape architecture at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1985–96; the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1989–92; and Harvard University, Cambridge, where he was an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) from 1998 to 2013, teaching courses in landscape architectural history, theory, research, and writing.  

Beardsley has also worked as a curator at numerous museums, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 1974–78; and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1981–89. Among the exhibitions he has organized or co-organized are “Black Folk Art in America” (Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1982); “Hispanic Art in the United States” (Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1987); and "The Quilts of Gee's Bend" (Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2002). In 1997 he was curator of the visual arts project "Human Nature: Art and Landscape in Charleston and the Low Country" for the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. in Charleston. While at the GSD, he co-organized the exhibitions “One Hundred Years of Landscape Architecture at Harvard” (2000) and "Dirty Work: Transforming the Landscape of Nonformal Cities in the Americas" (2008), the latter examining efforts to improve environmental conditions in low-income communities across Latin America.

Beardsley was most recently Director of Garden and Landscape Studies at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C., where he oversaw a fellowship program, a lecture series, an annual symposium, a publications program, summer internships, and a series of installations of contemporary art in the institution’s historic gardens, as well as a new Mellon-funded initiative in urban landscape studies. His publications during his tenure include the edited volumes Landscape Body Dwelling: Charles Simonds at Dumbarton Oaks; the proceedings of the 2010 symposium, Designing Wildlife Habitats; and the proceedings of the 2013 symposium, Cultural Landscape Heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa, which received the Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians in 2018.