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Melissa Rachleff Burtt

Clinical Professor of Visual Arts Administration

Art and Art Professions


Melissa Rachleff is a Clinical Professor in the Visual Arts Administration Program at NYU: Steinhardt, where she concentrates on the nonprofit sector. In 2017 she curatedInventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965 for NYU Grey Art Gallery and wrote/edited the accompanying book, which is co-published by the Grey and Prestel Publishing. Melissa began her career as the assistant curator at Exit Art and co-curated exhibitions on the intersection of visual art and documentation. She also worked on exhibits about under-examined artists at mid-career. As a program officer for the New York State Council on the Arts from 1999-2007, Melissa was an advocate in supporting contemporary art projects done in collaboration with local communities. She has written about artist organizations for a variety of publications, and her essay, "Do It Yourself: A History of Alternatives" was published in Alternative Histories: New York Art Spaces (MIT Press) in 2012. For the fiftieth anniversary of 1968, Melissa curated Narrative & Counternarrative: (Re)Defining the Sixties for NYU's Bobst Library, based on the school's three main archive collections: Fales Library & Archive, Tamiment Library and the University’s archive.

Selected Publications

  • Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965. (New York: Prestel and NYU Grey Art Gallery, 2017). [author]
  • “Academic Collaborations with Community Museums: A Method for Incorporating Contemporary Art and Art Education in Arts Administration,” Jahrbuch of Kulturmanagementm(Hochschule für Musik FRANZ LISZT Weimar, Fall 2013), 313-337.
  • “Do it Yourself: A History of Alternatives,” in Rosatti, Lauren and Mary Anne Staniszewski, eds. Alternative Histories. (Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 2012): 23-40.
  • “Peering Behind the Curtain: Artists and Questioning Historical Authority” in Adair, William, et al., Letting Go: Historical Authority in a User Generated World (Philadelphia, PA: Pew Charitable Trust, 2011), 208-229.
  • “‘The Fever Dream of the Amateur Historian’: Ben Katchor’s The Rosenbach Company: A Tragicomedy” in Adair, ed. Letting Go, 242-265.
  • “Funding Artists: An Inside Perspective,” in Nieves, Marysol, et al., Taking AIM: The Business of Being an Artist Today (New York: Fordham University Press, 2011), 175-193.


Visual Arts Administration

Learn how to be a dynamic leader in the visual arts field. Our Visual Arts Administration program was the first in the nation to focus on visual arts management careers in both traditional and alternative contexts.

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