Dr. M.H. (Marjan) Groot

  • Senior lecturer and assistant professor
  • Art history
  • Design and socio-cultural engagement
  • Dutch applied art 1890-1940

Personal Homepage: art-design-science-ethics.tumblr.com

Current and recent projects


This is a four year EU cooperative research project under the Creative Europe Culture Sub-Programme. It runs from 2014-2018. Participating partners come from six European universities:

Turin Politecnico, Italy; Grenoble Université Pierre Mendès, France; Leiden University, The Netherlands; Lisbon IADE Instituto de Artes Visuais Design Marketing, S.A., Portugal; Ljubljana Center Slovenske Akademije Znanosti, Slovenia; Universidad de Oviedo, Spain.

The project has just started. This year, as well as the coming three years, we will organize conference-workshops, exhibitions, compile a database and publish books. In this project, I coordinate the activities which take place the University of Leiden and in the Netherlands. Project activities are open to all and our project website http://momowo.eu informs you about our upcoming activities!

STORYTELLING AND MATERIAL CULTURE around the Peace Palace in The Hague, June 2014-January 2015.
The project designed a digital interface to open up storylines on objects, material culture and heritage around the Peace Palace. It applied the notion of ‘storytelling’ via three personal and social-political storylines: a storyline on universality of peace and justice; a sex and gender-related storyline; and a storyline on universal cultural heritage. The project connects material culture and design with societal engagement on peace. I initiated this project and did the research for the history of art and design on war and peace. I worked together with IT programming designers Thomas de Wolf and Leon van Noord of studio diip. It was a short-term KIEM pilot project funded by NWO humanities KIEM program and also supported by LUCAS, Leiden University.

The project-essay and report: Storytelling and material culture around war and peace. The case of the Peace Palace in The Hague is available as booklet print on demand for c. 9 Euro. To order it, please send an email to m.h.groot@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

TRANSPARENT RADIOLOGY, July 2014-February 2015
This is a short term Alfa plus humanities pilot project for 6 months, granted by NWO. The research case is to explore how art and design can help patients better understand radiological diagnosis and treatment at LUMC hospital.

I am the co-applicant of this project together with Robert Zwijnenberg (LUCAS Institute, Leiden University) and Monique Reijnierse (Leiden University Medical Centre). The pilot project explores collaboration between Humanities scholars in Art and Design History, practicing artists and designers represented by Het Instituut (Amsterdam), and the Radiology Department of LUMC Academic Hospital.

YEARBOOK FOR WOMEN’S HISTORY/Jaarboek voor Vrouwengeschiedenis

I am a member of the editorial board of the Yearbook for Women’s History. Each year, we publish a Yearbook that highlights a particular theme with regard to women and gender – with historical case studies as well as contemporary issues. Each yearbook is coordinated by a guest editor.

The Yearbook is published by Uitgeverij Verloren

I co-initiated the cooperative European educational exchange project Atelier Tipografic 2, together with graphic designers Hans Bockting, Dinu Dumbravician and Piet Gerards. This ran between October 2008 and June 2009.

Fields of interest

I am an all round historian of Design and Decorative Art. This field comprises the history of interior design, the history of designs for furniture, metalwork, ceramics, glass, graphic design, textiles, and so on. I search to combine historical knowledge and theoretical viewpoints with developments in contemporary society. This search also involves interdisciplinary connections between visual art, architecture and cultural variety.


In my recent research and publications I explore design as an engaged cultural expression in society. Gender is an important element in this expression. I find it important to examine design, nature and biotechnology; cross-cultural encounters related to design and crafts; and the blurring of boundaries between decorative arts, folk art and gender constructions. Recent articles focus on interactions between design and various biotechnologies in their socio-cultural impact; women and historiography on decorative art; representations of women in photography of the Second World War; and Storytelling and material culture. I conducted specialized historical research on decorative art in the Netherlands between 1880 and 1940 for my book Vrouwen in toegepaste kunst en industriële vormgeving in Nederland 1880-1940, published in 2007. This book gives a first historical overview of women designers and gender constructions in the Netherlands. The research brought me to archives looking for previously neglected and often unpublished historical sources on women designers. Other information was gathered via relatives of women designers. My older publications discuss commercial enterprises and consumerism in decorative arts and design; textile designs; and meaning and workings of animal iconography in decorative art.

Curriculum vitae

I obtained a doctorate from the University of Leiden where I specialized in the History of Decorative Art and Design. Before this, I did my doctoral study in Art History at the University of Amsterdam and University of Leiden. I hold a propaedeuse in Cultural Antropology from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and obtained a first grade teaching qualification from the Amsterdam Academy for Art and Design. At present, I lecture and teach seminars on decorative art and design at the University of Leiden in the Bachelor and Master programs Arts and Culture. Between 2008 and 2013 I was the chair of the BA and MA programs Arts and Culture of the University of Leiden.

Teaching activities

  • MA seminar on Art, Design, Science and Ethics;
  • MA seminar on Design as visual narrative on taste;
  • Third-year BA workgroup seminar on various subjects and themes, such as Design and Identity;
  • Second-year BA thematic lecture course on Gender in design and decorative art;
  • Second-year BA general Art historical excursions to European cities (Paris, Berlin);
  • First year BA general course on Representation.
I give also guest lectures on art and design in thematic series on African Art, postcolonial literature, and on Dutch design (recently at the Master in Design Studies program for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford)

Publications, most recent

Articles on my personal weblog
http://art-design-science-ethics.tumblr.com, online since December 2013

  • 02 Ernst Haeckel and the Visualization of Science – a talk for ‘Key of Life’, 2009/2014, web-article in 4 parts by Marjan Groot, 6257 words. Part 1 of 4: ‘Rhetoric of  design, to begin with’ (8 December 2014)
  • 03 Transformation Rotterdam (23 December 2013)
  • 04 Trans Natural (23 December 2013)
  • 05 Key of Life (23 December 2013)
  • 06 DNA Spray (6 January 2014)
  • 07 Liposuction Chair (6 January 2014)
  • 08 Larry Miller’s Genetic Code Copyright Certificate, web-article by Marjan Groot (13 May 2014, 5.51 am)
  • 09 Ernst Haeckel and the Visualization of Science – part 2 of 4: ‘Visual rhetoric of science’ (8 December 2014)
  • 010 Ernst Haeckel and the Visualization of Science – part 3 of 4: ‘Enter Ernst Haeckel’ (March 2015)
  • 011 Ernst Haeckel and the Visualization of Science – part 4 of 4: ‘Design again’ (4 March 2015)

Other publications

 ‘Modernist and Post-Colonialist Narratives of Gender and Nationalism mediated through Alpona’ (forthcoming 2015)  

 ‘Bio-Design as creative barbaric intervention’, in: Barbarism Otherwise, Rodopi forthcoming (Spring 2015).

  ‘The rhetoric and rhetoricality of Bio-Design’, 5th STS Italia conference A Matter of Design, Milan (e-book forthcoming March-April 2015).

Storytelling and material culture around war and peace. The case of the Peace Palace in The Hague (PDF- print on demand publication)

  ‘Photography as Visual Documentary Source on Women and Gender in the Second World War’, in: Under Fire: Women and World War II.Yearbook of Women’s History / Jaarboek voor Vrouwengeschiedenis 34, Amsterdam/Hilversum: Verloren Publishers, 2014, 81-112. (ISBN 978-90-8704-475-6; 192 p)

  ‘Twee steden en twee media: emoties in boekstad San Francisco omgezet naar filmstad Los Angeles’, in: S. Houppermans, J. Jacobs, R. Kruk (eds.), De stad in literatuur en kunst, Amsterdam: Rozenberg publishers, 2014.  Online at http://rozenbergquarterly.com/orbis-literatuur-in-verschillende-culturen/ (published March 2014).

  ‘Versiering, Verbeelding, Verleiding. Het werk van Marcel Wanders aan de hand van verhalen over ornament en smaak’, in: Marcel Wanders: Pinned Up. 25 jaar Vormgeving, Amsterdam (Stedelijk Museum) 2014, 34-37. English edition: ‘Decoration, Imagination, Seduction. The work of Marcel Wanders through narratives on ornament and taste’.

  ‘Visualizing genes and gender in speculative realities of the natural and the synthetic’, in Gender and genes.Yearbook of Women’s History / Jaarboek voor Vrouwengeschiedenis. 33, Hilversum/Amsterdam: Verloren, 2013.

  ‘The Amsterdam School: irrationality as implicit visual criticism’, in: Reflections on the collection of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: nai/010 publishers, 2012, 121-132 (also in Dutch).

  ‘Katagami and Japonisme in the Netherlands’, Exh. cat. Katagami Style, Tokyo (Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum) 2012, 66-68 (also in Japanese).

‘Herhaling in verhalen over ornament’, in: Sjef Houppermans, Jef Jacobs, Remke Kruk (eds.), Déjà Vu. Herhaling in literatuur en kunst, Leiden: Leiden University Press 2011, 147-180.

  ‘Katagami,  japonisme en crossculturalisme in Nederland, 1860-1930’, in Textielhistorische bijdragen 51 (2011), 24-50.

Design en gender: van object tot representatie, Amsterdam: University Press, 2011 (211 p.).

‘Chrissy Caviar® en myBio dolls’, KM Kunst en wetenschap (zomer 2011) 78, 16-19. ‘Behoud van de vorm die ageert en beweegt’, op http://www.designhistory.nl/category/artikelen                 http://www.designhistory.nl/2010/behoud-van-de-vorm-die-ageert-en-beweegt  (13 p.).

‘What to do with Design and European Identities?’, in: The Atelier Tipografic 2 Paper 2010 Design, Politics, Europe, Wenen/Amsterdam/Boekarest 2010, 10. (Projectreport, no ISBN)

Last Modified: 10-12-2015