The Founders

Joanne Allen, Lecturer in Art History, American University

Joanne Allen’s research reconstructs the original experience of church buildings in the Italian Renaissance and analyzes how these spaces were used, manipulated and altered. Her work investigates complex relationships between architecture, furniture, liturgy and images in a period when church institutions played a significant role in everyday life. She is currently writing a book manuscript on the destroyed choir screens which once dominated churches in Renaissance Florence, with an emphasis on how these structures related to societal divisions of gender, class and religious status.

Dr. Allen received her PhD from the University of Warwick in 2009 with a thesis on Renaissance choir stalls in Venice and Northern Italy. She has been awarded fellowships from the Society of Renaissance Studies, the British School at Rome and the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence, and has previously worked at The Art Newspaper and the Warburg Institute Library. She has published articles discussing churches in Venice, Rome, Padua and Vicenza in Renaissance Studies, The Journal of the British Archaeological Association, The Antiquaries Journal, and The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians.


Michael G. Gromotka, Freie Universität, Berlin

In his research, Michael G. Gromotka endeavours to investigate how, during their whole existence, church interiors in Italy have been subject to constant change. He explores how spatial dispositions and the artistic treatment of wall surfaces and furnishings have been repeatedly adapted to changing taste, artistic demands, representational needs, and evolving liturgy. His investigations in this realm have two major themes: the history of sacred space, and the history of the artistic treatment of the walls or rather, of all internal surfaces including floors, ceilings, screens, altars and other furnishings. 

Mr. Gromotka received his M.A. in History of Art and History from the Freie Universität Berlin in 2009. He is currently preparing his PhD thesis on the history of the church interior of S. Pietro in Perugia, for which he has been awarded with the Elsa Neumann Stipendium. Fundamental elements of his research approach to the Church Inetior explored in a recent article on Perugino’s Ascension Altar Ensemble in the Marburger Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft. He has been invited to several masterclasses at the Bibliotheca Hertziana and the Deutsches Studienzentrum in Venice.