Bruce Robertson, a native New Zealander, was educated at Swarthmore College and Yale University, where he received a PhD in art history in 1987. Most of his career has been spent balanced between curatorial work in museums--at the Corcoran Gallery and The Cleveland Museum of Art--and teaching at universities--U.Delaware, Oberlin, and CWRU. He is now a professor and former chair of the Department of History of Art and Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara. He has published widely in American and British art, with books on such artists as Paul Sandby, Winslow Homer, and Marsden Hartley.
Robertson's work in museums and universities has developed into a research interest in their histories and particularly the history of collecting. For institutions dedicated to knowledge production (especially that of memory and history), museums and universities, among the many things they share, both have a tendency to suppress and repress their own pasts. "Microcosms" is an element in a long-term interest in rewriting the history of collecting and art museums, in an effort to shape the future.