Holger A. Klein

Holger A. Klein

Early Christian, Byzantine, and Western Medieval Art and Archaeology
Ph.D., Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, 2000
M.A., Courtauld Institute of Art, 1994


Holger A. Klein was educated in Art History, Early Christian Archaeology, and German Literature at the universities of Freiburg im Breisgau, Munich, London, and Bonn. His research focuses on Late Antique, Early Medieval, and Byzantine art and architecture, more specifically, on the cult of relics, reliquaries, and issues of cultural and artistic exchange.

Professor Klein joined Columbia University as an Assistant Professor in 2000, was promoted to tenured Associate Professor in 2006, and to Professor in 2011. In 2015–16, he held an Alliance Visiting Professorship at the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne and taught Columbia undergraduates at Reid Hall. He was named The Lisa and Bernard Selz Professor of Medieval Art History in 2018. At Columbia University, Professor Klein has served as Director of Art Humanities (2003; 2007–09), Director of Graduate Studies (2010–12; 2017–20), Chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology (2012–15), inaugural Director of the Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies (2017–21), and Faculty Director of the Casa Muraro Library and Research Center in Venice (2015–23). He currently serves as a member of the University Senate, representing the tenured faculty in the Humanities division of the School of Arts and Sciences.

In addition to his academic work, Professor Klein previously held an appointment as the Robert P. Bergman Curator of Medieval Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art (2004–07) and continued to oversee the reinstallation of the museum's renowned collection of Medieval and Byzantine art until 2010. His work as a curator includes various international loan exhibitions, among them Restoring Byzantium. The Kariye Camii in Istanbul and the Byzantine Institute Restoration (Wallach Art Gallery, 2004; Pera Museum, 2007), Medieval Treasures from The Cleveland Museum of Art (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum/The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007–08) and Treasures of Heaven. Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe (Cleveland Museum of Art/Walters Art Museum/British Museum, 2010–11) and The Way We Remember: Fritz Koenig’s Sphere, the Trauma of 9/11, and the Politics of Memory (Wallach Art Gallery, 2021).

Professor Klein is the recipient of several awards and prizes, including the 50th annual Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching (2011), which honors a Columbia professor's commitment to undergraduate instruction as well as inspiring leadership; the Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award (2012), which recognizes unusual merit as a teacher of undergraduate and graduate students as well as outstanding scholarship; and the Wm. Theodore de Bary Award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum (2014). He was a Distinguished Research Fellow of Sabancı University from 2022–23.


From Robert College to the Byzantine Institute: The American Contribution to the Rediscovery, Study, and Preservation of Byzantine Monuments in Istanbul, ca. 1830–1950, in: O. Delouis and B. Pitarakis, eds., Discovering Byzantium in Istanbul: Scholars, Institutions, and Challenges, 1800–1955, Istanbul 2022, 187–243

Liturgical Objects, in: The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Art and Architecture, ed. Ellen Schwartz, Oxford 2021, 495–514.

Objektkultur und Kultobjekte im kaiserlich-byzantinischen Prozessionswesen, in: Palatium Sacrum: Sakralität am Hof des Mittelalters, Orte – Dinge – Rituale, ed. M. Luchterhand und H. Röckelein, Regensburg 2021, 77–100

Amalfi, Byzantium, and the Vexed Question of Artistic ‘Influence’, in: Zeitschrift des Deutschen Vereins für Kunstwissenschaft (2015), 130–156 [= Opus. Festschrift für Rainer Kahsnitz, ed. W. Augustyn, 3 vols., I/III, Berlin 2019]. 

From Ganslberg to Manhattan: Fritz Koenig’s Great Caryatid Sphere N.Y. (1967–1972), in: A. Rudigier, E. Schmidt, S. Weinmayr, eds., Fritz Koenig (1924–2017)Retrospective, Florence [Gallerie degli Uffizi, Galleria delle statue e delle pitture; Boboli Gardens] 2018, 237–243. 

Cardinal Bessarion, Philippe de Mézières, and the Rhetoric of Relics in late medieval Venice, in: La stauroteca di Bessarione fra Costantinopoli e Venezia, ed. H. A. Klein, V. Poletto, P. Schreiner, Venezia 2017, 3–39. 

Das Apostel-Armreliquiar aus dem Welfenschatz in Cleveland und der Typus der Armreliquiare, in: Klaus Gereon Beuckers and Dorothee Kemper, eds., Typen mittelalterlicher Reliquiare zwischen Innovation und Tradition. Beiträge einer Tagung des Kunsthistorischen Instituts der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel am 22. Oktober 2016, Regensburg 2017, 23–46. 

Materiality and the Sacred: Reliquaries and the Rhetoric of Enshrinement, in: Saints and Sacred Matter. The Cult of Relics in Byzantium and Beyond, ed. C. Hahn and H. A. Klein, Washington D.C. (2015), 231–252. 

The Crown of His Kingdom: Imperial Ideology, Palace Ritual, and the Relics of Christ’s Passion, in: The Emperor’s House: Palaces from Augustus to the Age of Absolutism, ed. J. M. Featherstone, J.-M. Spieser, G. Tanman, U. Wulf-Rheidt, Leipzig (2015), 201–212. 

Die Staurothek Kardinal Bessarions: Bildrhetorik und Reliquienkult im Venedig des späten Mittelalters, in: Inter latinos graecissimus, inter graecos latinissimus. Bessarion im Wechselspiel kultureller Integration, ed. C. Märtl and C. Kaiser, Berlin and Boston (2013), 245–276. 

Tarifi Zor Bay Whittemore: Erken Dönem, 1871–1916 — The Elusive Mr. Whittemore: The Early Years 1871–1916The Kariye Camii Reconsidered, ed. H. A. Klein, R. G. Ousterhout, B. Pitarakis, Istanbul (2011), 451-480. 

Refashioning Byzantium in Venice, ca. 1200–1400San Marco, Byzantium, and the Myths of Venice, ed. R. Nelson and H. Maguire, Washington D.C. (2010), 193–225. 

Sacred Things and Holy Bodies. Collecting Relics from Late Antiquity to the Early RenaissanceTreasures of Heaven. Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe, ed. M. Bagnoli, H. A. Klein, C. G. Mann, J. Robinson, Baltimore (2010), 55-67. 

The Church of Hagia Sophia in Bizye (Vize): Results of the Fieldwork Seasons 2003 and 2004Dumbarton Oaks Papers 60 (2006), 249-270. 

Sacred Relics and Imperial Ceremonies at the Great Palace of ConstantinopleF.A. Bauer (ed.), Visualisierungen von Herrschaft, BYZAS 5 (2006), 79-99. 

Eastern Objects and Western Desires: Relics and Reliquaries between Byzantium and the WestDumbarton Oaks Papers 58 (2004), 283-314. 


Review: David M. Perry, Sacred Plunder: Venice and the Aftermath of the Fourth CrusadeUniversity Park: Pennsylvania State University Press 2015, in: American Historical Review 122/1 (2017), 235-236. 

Review: Brigitte Pitarakis, Les croix-reliquaires pectorales Byzantines en bronze, Bibliothèque des Cahiers archéologiques 16, Paris 2006, in: Byzantinische Zeitschrift 102/1 (2009), 273–277. 


Landshuter Zeitung (September 11, 2021), p. 6.

Südkurier, Nr. 76 (April 1, 2021), p. 14.

Panthéon Sorbonne magazine, Nr. 19 (octobre-décembre 2016), p. 32–35. 

Columbia College Today, Volume 39, Number 1 (Fall 2011), p. 14.

Selected Publications

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The Kariye Camii Reconsidered

Holger A. Klein
Robert G. Ousterhout
Brigitte Pitarakis
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Sacred Gifts and Worldly Treasures

Holger A. Klein
Stephen N. Fliegel