top of page


Elena Phipps, Ph.D., an independent textile scholar and curator, has her doctorate in Precolumbian Art History and Archaeology from Columbia University (1989) . For over 34 years, she worked at the Metropolitan Museum (1977-2010) as Senior Museum Conservator in the Textile Conservation Department, and as special curator of several major textile exhibitions, including The Colonial Andes: Tapestries and Silverwork  1430-1830, (awarded both the Alfred Barr Jr. Award for best exhibition catalogue 2004-2005 from the College Art Association, and the Mitchell Prize, in 2006) and The Interwoven Globe: Worldwide Textile Trade 1500-1800  (MMA, 2013). Also in 2013, she was Guest Curator for the exhibition The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth: ancient threads/ new directions, (and author of the catalogue) for the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles and a curatorial consultant for the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe’s 2015 exhibition The Red that Colored the World, inspired in part by her 2010 publication Cochineal Red: the art history of a color (2010 Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press). She is currently teaching technical and cultural history of world textiles at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), in the department of World Arts and Cultures.

Elena has numerous publications on textiles focusing on the relationship between materials and techniques and culture history including Looking at Textiles: a technical terminology (2011, Getty Publications), “The Iberian Globe” and  “Global Colors: Dyes and the Dye Trade from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century” in A. Peck, editor The Interwoven Globe: Worldwide Textile Trade 1500-1800 (Metropolitan Museum 2013), “Textile Colors and Colorants in the Andes” in Gerhard Wolf, Joseph Connors and Louis A. Waldman, eds.  Colors between Two Worlds. Villa I Tatti,  Florence (Harvard Univ. 2012), among many others. 

She was President of the Textile Society of America from 2011-2014, a non-profit international organization for the dissemination of knowledge about textiles.


BA. Hampshire College

MA, MPhil and PhD Columbia University, Dept of Art History and Archaeology

Awards & Nominations:

Tapestries and Silverwork of the Colonial Andes, 2004  was given  the Alfred Barr Jr. Award for best exhibition catalogue 2004-2005 from the College Art Association, and also awarded the Mitchell Prize, in 2006.

Elena was invited as a Getty Museum Scholar in 1999 and awarded an NEH Grant for Individual Scholars in 1999-2000 for her research on the project of Colonial Tapestries from the Andes.

She was elected to the Board of the Textile Society of America in 2008 and elected Vice President/President Elect in 2010, serving as President 2011-2014.

bottom of page