Donors Endow the Heather and Paul G. Haaga Jr., Class of 1970, Curatorship At Princeton University Art Museum; Laura M. Giles Appointed

PRINCETON, N.J.— Laura M. Giles, an internationally recognized scholar of Italian Renaissance and Baroque drawings, has been appointed as the first Heather and Paul G. Haaga Jr., Class of 1970, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Princeton University Art Museum (PUAM). Giles has held the position of curator of prints and drawings at the Museum since December 2000.

“Heather and Paul Haaga’s generosity will advance and support important new scholarship and increased public access surrounding one of the Princeton University Art Museum’s richest and most historic holdings,” said James Steward, Museum Director. With more than 15,000 works spanning six centuries of Western art, this world-renowned collection includes major drawings and watercolors by artists ranging from Bernini and Tiepolo to Turner and Winslow Homer, superb impressions of Old Master prints by Dürer, Rembrandt, and Goya, and pastel masterpieces by Degas and O’Keeffe, as well as medieval illuminated manuscripts and Latin American works on paper. The prints and drawings holdings, established in the 1930s and 1940s largely by grants and bequests from Princeton alumni, represent one of the most extensively utilized collections, particularly by Princeton undergraduates. “We are deeply grateful for this endowed curatorship, which will greater facilitate the Museum’s ability to present, both in the galleries and in our study rooms, works of art of an exceptional historical range, technique, and quality,” he added.

Donors Paul G. Haaga Jr. (class of 1970), and Heather Haaga have wide-ranging philanthropic engagements across the arts, culture and education. Their deep ties to the Princeton University community were most recently manifest through their planning and fundraising efforts for the 40th reunion of the Class of 1970. Paul Haaga received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Princeton in 1970; he also holds a master’s degree in business (1974) from the Wharton School and a Juris Doctor (1979) from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He was, until recently, the president of the Class of 1970 and currently serves on numerous boards, including the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens and the Board of Overseers at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Heather Sturt Haaga received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Vassar College. She is a practicing artist ( with a focus on plein air painting—primarily landscapes and still lifes, and has had successful shows in Los Angeles and on the East Coast. Ms. Haaga is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Princeton Theological Seminary and has recently joined the Advisory Council of PUAM. 

“Paul and I are delighted to support the Princeton University Art Museum by endowing this vital curatorial position,” said Heather Haaga. “As an artist, nothing is more exciting to me than looking at works of art in the original. Visiting the prints and drawings study room at Princeton for a close encounter with a watercolor by Paul Cézanne or watching a conservator work on an Old Master drawing is the kind of direct and intimate experience with great works of art that we wanted to help make possible for students and other visitors for years to come.” 

Since coming to Princeton, Laura Giles has done much to increase the visibility and accessibility of the Department of Prints and Drawings and has organized a wide variety of exhibitions at the Museum that demonstrate the breadth and depth of the collections as well as the scope of her interests. In addition to Cézanne in Focus: Watercolors from the Henry and Rose Pearlman Collection (accompanied by a scholarly catalogue Giles edited), these include Klinger to Kollwitz: German Art in the Age of Expressionism and Image and Concept: Recent Acquisitions in African-American Art, both of which emphasized areas of the collection to which she has added significantly through major acquisitions. Among her current projects, Giles is preparing a major publication and exhibition, scheduled for 2014, on the Museum’s distinguished collection of Italian drawings as well as preparing an international tour of the renowned Pearlman Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. 

“I’m honored to be the first Heather and Paul G. Haaga Jr., Class of 1970, Curator of Prints and Drawings and am grateful to the Haagas for this extraordinary demonstration of their commitment to the Museum’s outstanding collection of works on paper,” said Giles. “I like to think of prints and drawings as signifying the most public and private aspects of the artistic process, thereby enhancing our understanding of art across time and media and serving as an integral component of the Museum’s teaching mission.” 

Prior to her appointment at Princeton, Giles was research curator of Italian drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, curator of paintings and drawings and assistant professor of art history at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, and served as curatorial assistant in the departments of prints and drawings at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Swarthmore College, a master’s degree in Art History from Williams College, and a doctorate in Fine Arts from Harvard University, where she wrote her dissertation on the 17th-century Italian artist Giacomo Cavedone.