Dr Claire I R O'Mahony

Profile details

Associate Professor in History of Art and Design


My teaching is primarily for the Master of Studies degree programme in the History of Design which I founded at Oxford in 2009 and for which I am Course Director. Over 100 MSt dissertations have been successfully completed by supervisees in my care. At present I am also helping to supervise two doctoral projects with a lead supervisor Professor William Whyte in the History Faculty: a historical analysis of nineteenth-century building materials, Lily Crowther and an exploration of the adaptive re-use of historic miltary and religious built environments to new purposes, MInna Colakis. My supervisee Emma Anderson completed her DPhil in Architectural History on turn-of-the century luxury hotels in London in 2020. 

My doctorate about regional identity and mural decoration in the townhalls of Third Republic France was supervised by Professor John House (Courtauld Institute 1998). I began my career teaching at the Courtauld, Birkbeck, Reading and Thames Valley Universities and as Education Officer for Secondary Schools and Community groups at the Courtauld Gallery (1991-9). I was appointed Director of Lifelong Learning for History Art at the University of Bristol (2001-7). My curatorial experience began as an researcher for the Richard Green Galleries and Royal Academy of Arts London and in 2006 I curated Brunel and the Art of Invention for the Bristol City Art Gallery for Brunel 200.  I served as Chair of the Design History Society and Associate Editor of the Journal of Design History (2019 to 2022). My current research explores visual, material and spatial design cultures primarily in Europe between 1870 and 1968.


Recent Publications

  • 'Representations of Crafts' in Cultural History of Craft in the Modern Age (1920‒present). edited by Professor Emeritus Clive Edwards (in press with Bloomsbury for 2024/5)
  • 'Forging foam at the 1925 Paris Exhibition' chapter in collected volume The Senses and Interior Design edited by Professor John Potvin (Manchester University Press, 2023). 
  • ‘Billiard table’ in European Sports History in 100 Objects edited by Daphné Bolz and Michael Kruger WWU Münster (arete Verlag, 2023). 
  • 'Introduction' and 'Chapter 7 Exhibitions and Display' in A Cultural History of Furniture (six-volume series) editor of modern period volume (Bloomsbury, 2022); co authors: Professor Anja Baumhoff (Hannover); Dr Antony Buxton (Oxford); Dr Helena Chance (Buckingham); Professor Emeritus Clive Edwards (Loughborough); Professor Marjan Groot (Amsterdam); Professor Trevor Keeble (Portsmouth); Professor Penny Sparke (Kingston); Professor Emeritus Gregory Votolato (Buckingham, RCA).
  • Histories of Design for Disability (Oxford Online Reading List): ORLO an open-access digital teaching and learning resource created for 2019 Disability History Month.