Holger A. Klein

Lisa and Bernard Selz Professor of Medieval Art History

Early Christian, Byzantine, and Western Medieval Art and Archaeology
Ph.D., Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, 2000
M.A., Courtauld Institute of Art, 1994

Contact Information

Phone: (212) 854-3230
Office: 931 Schermerhorn Hall
On leave 2021–22


Holger A. Klein was educated in Art History, Early Christian Archaeology, and German Literature at the universities of Freiburg im Breisgau, Munich, London, and Bonn. His research focuses on Late Antique, Early Medieval, and Byzantine art and architecture, more specifically, on the cult of relics, reliquaries, and issues of cultural and artistic exchange.

Professor Klein joined Columbia University as an Assistant Professor in 2000, was promoted to tenured Associate Professor in 2006, and to Professor in 2011. In 2015–16, he held an Alliance Visiting Professorship at the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and taught Columbia undergraduates at Reid Hall. He was named The Lisa and Bernard Selz Professor of Medieval Art History in 2018. At Columbia University, Professor Klein has served as Director of Art Humanities (2003; 2007–09), Director of Graduate Studies (2010–12; 2017–20), Chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology (2012–15), inaugural Director of the Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies (2017–21), and Faculty Director of the Casa Muraro Library and Research Center in Venice.

In addition to his academic work, Professor Klein previously held an appointment as the Robert P. Bergman Curator of Medieval Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art (2004–07) and continued to oversee the reinstallation of the museum's renowned collection of Medieval and Byzantine art until 2010. His work as a curator includes various international loan exhibitions, among them Restoring Byzantium. The Kariye Camii in Istanbul and the Byzantine Institute Restoration (Wallach Art Gallery, 2004; Pera Museum, 2007), Medieval Treasures from The Cleveland Museum of Art (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum/The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007–08) and Treasures of Heaven. Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe (Cleveland Museum of Art/Walters Art Museum/British Museum, 2010–11) and The Way We Remember: Fritz Koenig’s Sphere, the Trauma of 9/11, and the Politics of Memory (Wallach Art Gallery, 2021).

Professor Klein is the recipient of several awards and prizes, including the 50th annual Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching (2011), which honors a Columbia professor's commitment to undergraduate instruction as well as inspiring leadership; the Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award (2012), which recognizes unusual merit as a teacher of undergraduate and graduate students as well as outstanding scholarship; and the Wm. Theodore de Bary Award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum (2014). He was named a Distinguished Research Fellow of Sabancı University in 2020.


Amalfi, Byzantium, and the Vexed Question of Artistic ‘Influence’, in: Zeitschrift des Deutschen Vereins für Kunstwissenschaft (2015), 130–156 [= Opus. Festschrift für Rainer Kahsnitz, ed. W. Augustyn, 3 vols., I/III, Berlin 2019]. PDF

From Ganslberg to Manhattan: Fritz Koenig’s Great Caryatid Sphere N.Y. (1967–1972), in: A. Rudigier, E. Schmidt, S. Weinmayr, eds., Fritz Koenig (1924–2017)Retrospective, Florence [Gallerie degli Uffizi, Galleria delle statue e delle pitture; Boboli Gardens] 2018, 237–243. PDF

Cardinal Bessarion, Philippe de Mézières, and the Rhetoric of Relics in late medieval Venice, in: La stauroteca di Bessarione fra Costantinopoli e Venezia, ed. H. A. Klein, V. Poletto, P. Schreiner, Venezia 2017, 3–39. PDF

Das Apostel-Armreliquiar aus dem Welfenschatz in Cleveland und der Typus der Armreliquiare, in: Klaus Gereon Beuckers and Dorothee Kemper, eds., Typen mittelalterlicher Reliquiare zwischen Innovation und Tradition. Beiträge einer Tagung des Kunsthistorischen Instituts der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel am 22. Oktober 2016, Regensburg 2017, 23–46. PDF

Materiality and the Sacred: Reliquaries and the Rhetoric of Enshrinement, in: Saints and Sacred Matter. The Cult of Relics in Byzantium and Beyond, ed. C. Hahn and H. A. Klein, Washington D.C. (2015), 231–252. PDF

The Crown of His Kingdom: Imperial Ideology, Palace Ritual, and the Relics of Christ’s Passion, in: The Emperor’s House: Palaces from Augustus to the Age of Absolutism, ed. J. M. Featherstone, J.-M. Spieser, G. Tanman, U. Wulf-Rheidt, Leipzig (2015), 201–212. PDF

Die Staurothek Kardinal Bessarions: Bildrhetorik und Reliquienkult im Venedig des späten Mittelalters, in: Inter latinos graecissimus, inter graecos latinissimus. Bessarion im Wechselspiel kultureller Integration, ed. C. Märtl and C. Kaiser, Berlin and Boston (2013), 245–276. PDF

Tarifi Zor Bay Whittemore: Erken Dönem, 1871–1916 — The Elusive Mr. Whittemore: The Early Years 1871–1916, The Kariye Camii Reconsidered, ed. H. A. Klein, R. G. Ousterhout, B. Pitarakis, Istanbul (2011), 451-480. PDF

Refashioning Byzantium in Venice, ca. 1200–1400, San Marco, Byzantium, and the Myths of Venice, ed. R. Nelson and H. Maguire, Washington D.C. (2010), 193–225. PDF

Sacred Things and Holy Bodies. Collecting Relics from Late Antiquity to the Early Renaissance, Treasures of Heaven. Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe, ed. M. Bagnoli, H. A. Klein, C. G. Mann, J. Robinson, Baltimore (2010), 55-67. PDF

The Church of Hagia Sophia in Bizye (Vize): Results of the Fieldwork Seasons 2003 and 2004, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 60 (2006), 249-270. PDF

Sacred Relics and Imperial Ceremonies at the Great Palace of Constantinople, F.A. Bauer (ed.), Visualisierungen von Herrschaft, BYZAS 5 (2006), 79-99. PDF

Eastern Objects and Western Desires: Relics and Reliquaries between Byzantium and the West, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 58 (2004), 283-314. PDF


Review: David M. Perry, Sacred Plunder: Venice and the Aftermath of the Fourth CrusadeUniversity Park: Pennsylvania State University Press 2015, in: American Historical Review 122/1 (2017), 235-236. PDF

Review: Brigitte Pitarakis, Les croix-reliquaires pectorales Byzantines en bronze, Bibliothèque des Cahiers archéologiques 16, Paris 2006, in: Byzantinische Zeitschrift 102/1 (2009), 273–277. PDF


Why we should be concerned about President Erdoğan turning museums into mosques in: The Art Newspaper, August 27, 2020.


Südkurier, Nr. 76 (April 1, 2021), p. 14. PDF

Panthéon Sorbonne magazine, Nr. 19 (octobre-décembre 2016), p. 32–35. PDF

Columbia College Today, Volume 39, Number 1 (Fall 2011), p. 14. PDF

Web Sites

Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe

The Byzantine Church of Hagia Sophia at Vize in Turkish Thrace

Curriculum Vitae

CV (last updated: September 2020) PDF