Hofstra University is saddened by the passing of Donna Barnes, professor emerita of Teaching, Learning and Technology. Dr. Barnes’ professional activities and scholarly interests were centered on the history of childhood and family life, art history and museum education and multicultural education. In 2010 she directed the Cultural Center symposium Child’s Play, Children’s Pleasures: Interdisciplinary Explorations, which explored how different forms of children’s toys and play provide important opportunities for learning. She also curated the associated Hofstra University Museum exhibition, Children’s Pleasures, American Celebrations of Childhood.
Dr. Barnes served as a founding vice president of the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation that offers grants to production companies to offset expenses in producing LGBTQ-themed plays, films, videos, and other performing-arts works based on history. She was passionate about 17th-century Dutch art; she curated several exhibitions of Old Master Dutch paintings in both the United States and the Netherlands. She lectured on Dutch art and daily life at the Amsterdam Museum, the Rembrandt House Museum, and the Center for the Study of the Golden Age at the University of Amsterdam. She wrote a number of books on Dutch art and artists, including Matters of Taste: Food and Drink in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art and Life (2002) and Childhood Pleasures: Dutch Children in the Seventeenth Century (2012), both coauthored with food historian Peter G. Rose and published by Syracuse University Press.
“Donna was a truly creative educator, one who enriched the lives of both students and the entire Hofstra University community with her passion for art and learning,” said Timothy Smith, professor emeritus in the School of Education and an adjunct professor in the Department of Global Studies and Geography. “She had a unique ability to illuminate the beauty in the daily lives of ordinary people and children both historically and in our own time.”