Distinguished Alumni: Patricia Fidler

Head Shot of Patricia Fidler

"I would strongly encourage [students] to explore as many avenues related to their passion/academic interests as possible. Be strategic, but don’t forget to be flexible and take some chances. "

Patricia Fidler (MA '91)
Executive Director of Yale University Press’s A&AePortal


We were pleased to welcome Patricia Fidler back to campus on September 28, 2023 as the nineteenth annual Murphy Distinguished Alumni Lecturer. Ms. Fidler is the Executive Director of Yale University Press’s A&AePortal, a position she has held since 2020. The A&AePortal is described on its website as “an authoritative eBook resource that features important works of scholarship in the history of art, architecture, decorative arts, photography, and design. With innovative functionality and extensive metadata, the site offers students and scholars an engaging experience, encouraging critical thinking skills and supporting rigorous academic research.” Ms. Fidler previously served as Yale University Press’s Art and Architecture Executive Editor from 2000 to 2007 and Art and Architecture Publisher from 2007 to 2020. She earned her BA in Art History and French from KU in 1987 and her MA in Art History from KU in 1991. Like so many of our alumni who go on to successful art-related careers, she was a curatorial intern in the Spencer Museum of Art, serving in the Department of European and American Art and in the Department of Prints and Drawings between 1988 and 1991. While at the Spencer, she published the exhibition catalogue Art with a Mission: Objects of the Arts and Crafts Movement (1991). Ms. Fidler then worked as a Research Assistant and Curatorial Assistant in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s Department of European Painting and Sculpture from 1991 to 1995, and co-edited (with the late Roger Ward, BA ‘76) the 1993 book, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: A Handbook of the Collection. Relocating to the East Coast, she was an editor at Bulfinch Press/Little Brown & Company in Boston from 1995 to 1996 then Art and Architecture Editor at Princeton University Press from 1996 to 2000 before she joined Yale University Press where she has now worked for 23 years. She has served the profession for the same number of years as a member of the College Art Association’s Committee on Intellectual Property from 1999 to 2022. In her Murphy Distinguished Alumni Lecture, “Endleaves to ePubs: Adventures of an Art Book Editor,” Ms. Fidler presented an overview of her career in art book publishing.

Patricia Fidler answers our questions:

After graduate school, I was hired by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (NAMA): first as a research assistant for an Italian paintings catalogue and then as a curatorial assistant in the department of European Painting and Sculpture. At the time, I was happily focused on a curatorial career and working with objects, but I became increasingly intrigued by the publishing process. After working on the Italian paintings catalogue, co-authoring a new collections handbook for the NAMA, and undertaking freelance proofreading for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I decided to take the formal leap into art book publishing: I have held acquisitions positions at Little, Brown & Co., Boston; Princeton University Press; and Yale University Press. I came to Yale as Executive Editor and, after a few years, became the Publisher of the Art & Architecture program. About three years ago, my interests evolved further, and I became the Executive Director of Yale’s A&AePortal.

At KU, I was really fortunate to benefit from a rigorous academic program that was supplemented by meaningful internship opportunities at the Spencer Museum of Art. There I had many amazing experiences, including work on Art With a Mission: Objects of the Arts and Crafts Movement, a Spencer exhibition and accompanying catalogue.

I would strongly encourage them to explore as many avenues related to their passion/academic interests as possible. Be strategic, but don’t forget to be flexible and take some chances.

One has to develop a thick skin when working as an acquisitions editor.

Publishing has changed enormously during my career: in every single way—from how books are acquired, produced, marketed, and sold.

When I first arrived at Yale, I had a small staff and inherited a small list (at the time, most of the art books were being published in Yale’s London office). I took that foundation and built a much larger team, eventually generating a list of over 100 books per year. This includes distributed museum titles; building exclusive publishing relationships with over 20 prestigious museums while at Yale is one of my proudest accomplishments. While it will only be determined in the fullness of time, I hope that my current work with the A&AePortal, a groundbreaking electronic platform, will be an important part of my legacy at Yale, as well as to the disciplines of art and architectural history.