Bettina Jungen graduated from High School in Zurich, Switzerland in 1988. Before entering the University of Zurich she took Russian lessons, in order to prepare for her studies in Russian Language and Literature and History of Art. Although the University didn’t offer courses in Russian or East European art, Bettina specialized in Russian art by selecting for her course works and exams Russian subjects in Art History and art-related topics in Russian studies. She worked on the motif of the Trinity in Christian art, focusing on Andrei Rublev’s most revered icon of the Holy Trinity (early 15th century), the relation of image and text in Russian broadsheets, old Russian and Stalinist architecture, Russian realism and the avant-garde. Bettina supported her active interest in Russian culture with one or two field trips to Russia every year (Leningrad/St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Lviv, and Crimea) and by studying a Semester in St. Petersburg in 1993.
After graduating from University with the Lizentiat (equivalent to the Masters Degree) in 1997, Bettina acquired work experience in museums. She had her first internship at the Staedelsches Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt/Main in 1998 in the department of sculpture, where she collected materials about artists and works who were eliminated from the galleries during the Nazi regime and proof read catalog texts. In addition she assisted infrared reflectography examinations and the installation of the exhibition Innenleben : die Kunst des Interieurs. Vermeer bis Kabakov.
A larger project followed. For the exhibition Chagall, Kandinsky, Malewitsch und die Russische Avantgarde at the Hamburger Kunsthalle Bettina served as academic consultant to the curator, wrote and edited texts for the catalogue, illustrated texts, edited translations from Russian to German and served as interpreter for the participating Russian curators. In addition, she visited all departments in the museum getting insight into the various jobs. The exhibition traveled to the Kunsthaus Zurich in 1999 where Bettina translated exhibition-related correspondence and conducted general and special VIP tours. In 2001 Bettina worked again for a large exhibition in Germany, Mit voller Kraft at the Museum fuer Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. She served as academic consultant, wrote and edited texts for the catalogue and chat labels, was responsible for the content of the audio tour, assisted and interpreted the unpacking of the objects, assisted the Russian curators and conducted tours in the exhibition. The museum experience provided Bettina with a solid knowledge of the structures and functioning of museums. It met not only her interest in working with objects, but also her eagerness to convey knowledge about Russian art to a broad audience. In addition to her practical knowledge, Bettina attended a course (certified) museum management where she acquired basic knowledge in management matters, public relations and exhibition making.
From 2003 to 2009 Bettina taught courses in art history at the Universities of Zurich and Basel, Switzerland including survey courses and special topic courses on modern and contemporary sculpture and Russian art. From 2005 to 2009 she taught at S-Art AG fuer Kunst-Kommunikation and Volkshochschule Zuerich, both schools for extended learning, introductory courses on European and American art. She also holds certificates from the University of Zurich in teaching Russian language and art history.
In order to accomplish the research for her dissertation about the sculptor Vera Mukhina (1889-1953) Bettina settled in Moscow from 2001 to 2004. A fellowship at the International Summer Academy at the Zentralinstitut fuer Kunstgeschichte in Munich in 2000 supported the first investigations for her thesis. There she contributed to the general topic A Century of Progress. The Arts in the Age of World’s Fairs 1851-1939 with her research about the sculpture on the Soviet pavilion at the World’s Fair in Paris 1937. Her stay in Moscow was supported by the DAAD (German Foreign Exchange Service). From 2001 to 2003 she was a fellow of the Promotionskolleg Ost-West at the Ruhr Universitaet Bochum. She got her PhD from the University of Zurich with the predicate “summa cum laude” in 2005 with the thesis Kunstpolitik versus Kunst. Leben und Werk der Bildhauerin Vera Muchina (1889-1953) [Art Politics versus Art. Life and Work of the Sculptor Vera Mukhina] published in Germany in 2005. Bettina Jungen also published articles on early Soviet art, gender aspects in Soviet art, sculpture and Russian avant-garde and delivered papers at national and international conferences, including CAA, Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, Popular Culture Association, Deutscher Kunsthistorikertag and the VIII World Congress of the International Council for Central and East European Studies in 2010.
In September 2009 Amherst College appointed Bettina Jungen as the Thomas P. Whitney Curator of Russian Art at the Mead Art Museum. She researches the Russian art collection and prepares a catalogue raisonné. During her first year she evaluated the strength of the collection, did basic research on works and artists, assessed the condition of the works on the basis of previous examinations and enacted a treatment plan. Other projects included an installation of European and American sculpture of the 1950s and 1960s and an installation of Russian non-conformist art on the occasion of Joseph Brodsky’s 70th anniversary, both accompanied by extensive research. In summer 2010 took part in the reinstallation of the museum and participates in all other collective museum projects such as collection assessment and planning of the collection development. Within the college she publicizes the Russian art collection among faculty and students, having reached not only Amherst Russian Studies faculty but also faculty from other colleges. Because of her expertise in Russian art, she most often co-teaches with faculty who whish to use the collection and takes an active part in the Russian Studies program. Beyond her activity within the college curriculum she builds contacts with other specialist in the field to explore the position of the Whitney collection. In June 2010 she facilitated the Mellon Faculty Seminar on Russian icons with Chapman University based Professor Wendy Salmond. In January 2011 Bettina invited Professor Yury Bobrov, Head of the Painting and Icon Conservation Department at the Repin Art Institute in St. Petersburg to conserve the Mead’s icons. Owing to her professional background in ballet, she also successfully introduced dance into the Mead’s programs.
Bettina is also responsible for the Mead’s Asian collections, which she evaluates and exhibits in cooperation with Five College specialists. In 2010 she evaluated two potential gifts of Asian objects for the Mead.