University Engagement Programme

Giovanna Vitelli


Dr Giovanna Vitelli is the Director of the University Engagement Programme, an Ashmolean Museum initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Giovanna received her PhD in Archaeology from the University of Reading, and her BA in Anthropology from Harvard University. She was a postgraduate Tavella-Stewart Scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the CELAT Humanities Institute of Université Laval in Québec.

In recent years, Giovanna has taught and undertaken research in Canada and in the US, at Université Laval in Québec, and at St Mary’s College of Maryland. She has also contracted as an archaeologist to organisations such as UNESCO, to private heritage foundations in the UK, and to the Québec Ministry of Culture in Canada.

Giovanna has an extensive record of survey, excavation and research in Europe, North Africa, and North America, in particular researching the spread of culture through colonialism, tourism, and expansion, and their effects on belief and knowledge systems. Arising out of this work, she has published thematically across cultures, looking at cultural interaction, coexistence and knowledge exchange, in particular between Indigenous and Colonial people. Her research interests focus primarily on the Early Modern period, its archaeology, ethnohistory, and the ethnographic objects found in antiquarian collections and Cabinets of Curiosities. Her most recent publications focus on the archaeology of 19th century tourism, 17th-century colonial New England archaeology, and early New World sites.

Extra-academic career experience includes a decade in the UK financial sector, a founder and Partner of an investment banking boutique firm, establishing the first Development Office for the British Museum, and Head of Individual Giving for the first Campaign for Oxford.

Giovanna is Chair of the Collections and Curation Committee of the Society for Historical Archaeology (2014-2016), an international professional body, and co-Chair of the North American Consortium on Collections Management (2012-2014). In these roles, her focus is on the stewardship of archaeological collections, and on the development of programmes designed to increase the use of collections in teaching and learning.