Daniel Walker is the Chair and Christa C. Mayer Thurman Curator of Textiles and also the Curator of Islamic Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. He came to Chicago in October, 2010, from Washington, D.C., where he served for four years as Director of The Textile Museum. Prior to that he was head of the Department of Islamic Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for seventeen years and held an endowed chair named for donor Patti Cadby Birch from 1997 to 2005. From 1975 to 1988 he was Curator of Ancient, Near Eastern and Far Eastern Art at the Cincinnati Art Museum. He has degrees from Bowdoin College (A.B. 1967) and Harvard University (A.M. 1973), and his military service included Persian language training and a two-year assignment as an Army officer in Iran.
Over the forty years of his museum career, Mr. Walker has published and lectured widely on diverse topics related to textiles and carpets, Islamic art, and museology. He was responsible for the reinstallation of the Art Institute’s Islamic collection, which opened to the public in November, 2014. He has personally organized twenty-five exhibitions, including Flowers Underfoot: Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era, named one of the best exhibitions of 1998 by the New York Times. His latest exhibition, Kesa: Japanese Buddhist Monks’ Vestments, is presently on view in the Art Institute’s textile galleries.