The Harvard Art Museums have appointed Laure Marest as their new Damarete Associate Curator of Ancient Coins — one of the few numismatic positions based at a U.S. university museum. Marest will lead the charge in rethinking the presentation of the museums’ sizable collection of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and other coins, as well as related objects, and in proposing fresh perspectives for the field through programs and publishing. She will begin her new role at Harvard on Sept. 18.
Marest is currently the Cornelius and Emily Vermeule Associate Curator of Greek and Roman Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she was previously assistant curator from 2017 to 2022. While at the MFA, she co-curated “The Marlborough Gem” (2023) and worked with colleagues to renovate and install five new permanent collection galleries featuring the art of ancient Greece, Rome, and the Byzantine Empire. She also is author of a forthcoming publication on the collection of ancient Greek and Roman engraved gems at the MFA.
In her role at the Harvard Art Museums, Marest will join the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art and oversee the museums’ numismatic collection. Working with colleagues across the museums and the Harvard campus, as well as with community stakeholders, she will participate in a museum-wide rethinking and reframing of the museums’ permanent collections galleries and contribute to exhibitions and publications. She will research the current numismatic holdings, make acquisitions to diversify the collection, and work closely with students and faculty to expand use of the collection in teaching across disciplines.
“We are delighted to welcome Laure to the Harvard Art Museums,” said Martha Tedeschi, the Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums. “Harvard students and our public audiences have long been fascinated with ancient coins, which feature prominently in our collection galleries. Laure’s expertise across different media and her wide-ranging interests and passion for inclusive storytelling will further expand our efforts to connect visitors to the peoples and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East.”
“I am excited to join the Harvard community and to work closely with colleagues across the museums and faculty to animate the numismatic collection and rethink the permanent displays,” said Marest. “And it is a great honor to succeed Carmen Arnold-Biucchi, a grande dame in the field, in this position, which itself was named after Damarete, an exemplary female ruler of Syracuse whose deeds were praised in antiquity.”
Comprising over 20,000 coins, the numismatic collection of the Harvard Art Museums is comprehensive and ideally suited for teaching. Greek, Roman, and Byzantine coins from c. 630 B.C.E. to 1453 C.E. form the core of the collection, but it also features examples of (west) Asian, Islamic, western medieval and later coins. The coin collection has grown steadily through bequests, gifts and purchases over the last 125 years.