A formidable scholar of Islamic art and architecture, Lisa Golombek has published five books and dozens of academic articles on a variety of topics. She is perhaps best known for her work on the art and architecture of the greater Iranian world, where her co-authored works on Timurid architecture (Lisa Golombek and Donald Wilber, The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988]), and analysis of the ceramics of the same period (Lisa Golombek, Robert Mason, and Gauvin Bailey, Tamerlane’s Tableware: A New Approach to Chinoiserie Ceramics of Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century Iran [Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1994]), are considered primary references in the field. Her most recent collaborative work on ceramics focuses on the Safavid period (L. Golombek, R.B. Mason, P. Proctor, and E. Reilly, Persian Pottery in the First Global Age: the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Leiden: Brill, 2014).
Dr. Golombek obtained a PhD from the University of Michigan in 1968, where she wrote a dissertation on the Timurid shrine at Gazargah in Afghanistan. From 1967, Golombek served as Curator of Islamic Art at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto until her retirement as Curator Emerita in 2005. She was also cross-appointed full professor of art history at the University of Toronto. During her tenure at the Royal Ontario Museum, Dr. Golombek researched and published on the museum’s collections, making especially important contributions to the study of ceramics and textiles. Her essay, “The Draped Universe of Islam” (in Priscilla P. Soucek, ed., Content and Context of Visual Arts in the Islamic World, 25-38 [University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1988]), is standard reading for students of art history interested in the history of textiles in the Islamic world. Dr. Golombek is currently working with Dr. R.B. Mason (U of T; ROM) on the pictorial tile friezes from an unknown Safavid palace.
In 2017, Dr. Golombek donated her slide collection for research and teaching to the Aga Khan Documentation Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The AKDC also received the documentation for Golombek’s co-authored history of Timurid Architecture mentioned above, as well as the documentation for the Isfahan Urban History Project, a research project she conducted with Renata Holod and Claus Breede on the urban plan of Isfahan between 1974 and 1978.