Predoctoral Fellow (M/F/D) – Lise Meitner Group, Max Planck Institute for Art History

The Max Planck Society is Germany’s premier research organization. The eighty-six Max Planck Institutes conduct research at the highest level in the service of the general public in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.

The Lise Meitner Group “Decay, Loss, and Conservation in Art History” led by Francesca Borgo at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome seeks to appoint a:

Predoctoral Fellow (M/F/D)

The deadline for application is September 15, 2024, 12 pm CEST. The funding period begins in early 2025 and can run for either six months or twelve months. Motivations for the funding period proposed should be made clear in the cover letter.

This position is intended for a PhD student enrolled at any university worldwide who is in the finishing stages of their dissertation. The predoctoral fellow will conduct their own research within the framework of the Lise Meitner Group. Our focus is on European and colonial art histories from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. Processes of loss (decay, destruction, damage, disappearance, waste, and impermanence), along with their opposites (practices of reuse, remaking, care, maintenance, or conservation), must be key issues structuring the fellow’s project. The applicant’s work should have particular relevance to the upcoming annual research initiatives “Rework” (2024/25) and/or “Lacunae” (2025/26), outlined here. Candidates are expected to review the research group’s research agenda, past initiatives and event series, as well as the broader structure of the Bibliotheca Hertziana.

We welcome applications from doctoral students in every field within the history of art, technical art history, conservation history, and museum studies, with preference given to projects crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries. Excellence in research, commitment to pursuing new insights through original scholarship, and willingness to become part of a group of young, international scholars are essential. Fellows will actively participate in the group’s activities and are invited to contribute to its publication output while benefiting from editorial and image licensing support. They will be responsible for planning and organizing seminars, workshops, visits, and field trips in collaboration with other team members and under the supervision of the group leader. Candidates must be highly proficient in English and conversant in Italian and/or German.

This is a residential fellowship, and in their cover letter candidates should articulate the relevance of a stay in Rome to their doctoral research. By the start of the appointment, candidates are expected to have taken up residence in Rome. The fellowship may not be held concurrently with another major fellowship award; applicants must disclose any supplementary funding and may not take on other obligations during their fellowship period.

The Max Planck Society offers a fixed-term contract of employment. Stipend and benefits are determined according to the German Civil Service Collective Agreement (65% TVöD Bund E 13) or equivalent, depending on individual personal circumstances. Fellows enjoy all the privileges of the institute, including library access seven days a week, a research budget, and their own desk. We encourage women and individuals from communities that are underrepresented in academia to apply. The Max Planck Society is committed to fostering equal opportunities and diversity and welcomes applicants from all parts of society, regardless of gender, ethnicity, disabilities, or sexual orientation.

To apply, the candidate must upload the following documents as separate PDF files to the application portal:

  • Cover letter that clearly states the candidate’s contribution to the research group’s objectives and the upcoming annual research initiative(s) as well as the motivation for their proposed length of stay
  • Description of proposed research project (max. 1000 words), accompanied by a bibliography
  • Curriculum vitae with list of publications (including those forthcoming, under revision, submitted, or in preparation)
  • One reference letter (this will be requested upon submission of the application, and should be uploaded by the referee by Friday, September 20).
  • Output proposal (max. 500 words). This could be a site visit, a collaboration with a local collection, a research seminar, a publishable piece of writing, or a contribution to a national or international conference that will be realized during the fellowship period. The proposal should detail specific names and locations and specify how the output aligns with the research group’s themes.

For any questions, please email

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