Matthew F. Singer, PhD

Founder and principal of Ideas in Things, Matt Singer has decades of experience as both an on-staff and independent writer, curator, educator, and coordinator and presenter of public-programs exploring and illuminating art, design, and architecture and the ideas and histories they embody and evoke.

He served as Senior Museum Writer and Communications Officer for the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 2001 through 2015. At the PMA and elsewhere, Matt has worked in words to raise public awareness and philanthropic support for the full range of offerings shared by arts and culture organizations–collections, exhibitions, public programs, and more–to communicate and advance their missions and highlight their powerful value as unique resources for communities and individuals.

In conjunction with and as a complement to his work with organizations, Matt is an independent curator of contemporary art and historic interiors and a longstanding, regular contributor of articles and essays to exhibition catalogs, general-readership periodicals, scholarly journals, and online forums such as

Matt earned an MA and PhD in American Studies from the Pennsylvania State University with concentrations in visual and material culture (including the history of American art, architecture, and decorative arts) and ethnic and religious studies.


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Résumé/Curriculum Vitae


  • Historian/scholar/content-specialist, museum and library professional, curator, writer-editor, and educator with proven effective commitment to raising awareness of, engagement with, and support for endeavors in arts, culture, and the humanities, and the individual and societal impact and dynamics of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and other aspects of intersectional identity
  • Decades of hands-on on-staff and independent experience conceiving, organizing, and presenting the full range of arts, culture, and cultural organization offerings—including exhibitions; permanent collection installations; publications; library and archival initiatives; original scholarly research, documentation, and interpretation; classroom and online teaching; public programs; and digital initiatives—that embody, communicate, and advance each organization’s unique mission and resonate with general and specialist audiences
  • Empathetic, uplifting, and focused team builder, leader, and collaborative partner in inter- and cross-organizational initiatives requiring buy-in from senior leadership, staff, volunteers, and donors

Employment and Recent Projects


Consulting Curator and Content Developer (contract)     2019–present

  • Serve as curator for art, architecture, decorative arts, and rare books and archival materials, generally, and conceive, plan, and realize the creation of interpretable, historically accurate period interiors and accompanying hardcopy and digital interpretive resources.
  • In collaboration with Alison Rooney ( and Lyceum staff, develop verbal, visual (hardcopy and digital), and material content for a permanent/core exhibition exploring the history, ecology, industrial and commercial development, culture, and people of Burlington County


Consultant for Content, Communications, and Development (contract)    2019–March 2024

  • Note for context: Founded in 1972, Brandywine Workshop and Archives produces, exhibits, and collects printed works of art by regional, national, and international artists representing underserved and underrepresented communities.—launched in 2020—is a free interactive digital-humanities education resource providing images of art, artist biographies, artwork descriptions, related archival materials, lesson plans, and hardcopy and online teaching guides for K-12 and college/university educators, students, and parents; museum, library, and cultural- and heritage-center professionals; institution-affiliated and independent scholars; and lifelong learners.
  • Leading contributor to BWA and Artura’s online and hardcopy content-creation, communications, development, and publishing activities with a focus on writing and/or editing needed texts: exhibition catalogs, exhibition didactics, additions to the Artura Teacher Guides for Cross-Curricular and Cross-Cultural Learning series, BWA and Artura website content, grant proposals, reports to funders, annual reports, brochures, e-newsletters, press-releases, social-media posts, etc.
  • Leading contributor to securing major grants from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, Mellon Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts


Senior Writer and Editor     2018

  • Produced and edited written content and gathered and organized graphic content for Off the Shelf magazine, Annual Report, and other publications and documents promoting the Free Library and the affiliated Rosenbach Museum and Library, their exhibitions, collections, educational and public programs, fundraising initiatives, and capital projects/facilities renovations and expansions
  • Managed project teams of executive staff, librarians, curators, consulting scholars, and graphic- and exhibition designers; coordinated group text and design review


Lecturer: “Race, Identity, and Experience in American Art”     2016–2017

  • Developed syllabus, organized diverse range of multimedia teaching materials, and taught in-class and online sections of a popular art-history/general-education course that promoted and enriched knowledge and appreciation of diverse individual and communal identities and intersectionality through the visual-arts


Senior Museum Writer and Communications Officer     2008–2015

  • Produced and edited written content and gathered and organized graphic content for Developments magazine, Annual Report, and other print and online publications promoting public engagement and donor cultivation and stewardship
  • Led project teams of museum staff of all levels and function. Collaborated with executive staff, curators, librarians, archivists, educators, conservators, visiting scholars, artists, collectors, and trustees
  • Served as lead writer, contributing curatorial-coordinator, and developer of the in-gallery interpretive/educational approach used by visitor-services staff and volunteer docents for the exhibition Making a Classic Modern: Frank Gehry’s Master Plan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2014)

Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art, Congregation Rodeph Shalom

Curator (pro bono)     1999–2014

  • Conceived, organized, and presented special exhibitions and permanent-collection installations of contemporary art by artists of all backgrounds and working in all media, illuminating the dynamism and diversity of contemporary Jewish life and culture
  • Initiated, organized, and presented public programs. Developed and maintained project budgets. Established organizational archive
  • Collaborated with freelance-designers, artists, and guest/contributing scholars to develop and produce catalogs, brochures, in-gallery interpretative components (hardcopy and audio-visual), and promotional materials for special exhibitions, acquisitions, reinstallations of the permanent collection, and public programs


Doctor of Philosophy, American Studies, Pennsylvania State University, 2016

Subfields: visual and material culture; ethnic and religious studies. Dissertation: “Building Liberal Religion: Jews and Unitarians Reform Faith and Architecture in 19th-Century Philadelphia.” Honors: Sue Samuelson Award for Academic Excellence in American Studies and Dunn Family Award for Jewish Studies

Master of Arts, American Studies, Pennsylvania State University, 1992. Concentrations: history of American art, architecture, decorative arts, and material culture. Thesis: “The Art and Craft of the Machine: Photography in The Craftsman, 1901–1916”

Bachelor of Arts (BA), Communication Studies, Pennsylvania State University/Schreyer Honors College, 1985, with certificate in European Mass-Communications, University of Manchester, England, 1984. Thesis: “’Punks’ in an American College Town: Testing David Matza’s Subcultural Theory”

Volunteer Affiliation

Print Center of Philadelphia: Board of Governors, Executive Committee, Chair of Annual Benefit Auction Committee