Diploma Superiore Scuola Interpreti Parlamentari, BA in Art History from Pitzer College, MA and Ph.D. in Art History from UCLA with focus on early-modern popular visual culture.


Prior to coming to Otis, Dr. Panzanelli worked at the Getty Research Institute for over a decade and at Polimoda (Florence, Italy). Her interests include the history of visual culture, fashion history and theory, early-modern popular culture, polychrome, and wax sculpture, and trend forecasting.  

She has curated several exhibitions and published on a variety of subjects: from polychrome sculpture and wax reproductions of the human body to early perspective manuals, the creation of national museums, and the role of the senses in pilgrimage experiences. 

After a few years of teaching fashion history, theory, and trend forecasting at Polimoda, she returned to LA, where she has been professionally involved in trend forecasting and brand curating for nearly a decade. She occasionally uses her language skills to edit and revise scientific texts for publication.

Since 2015, Dr. Panzanelli has been teaching at Otis in the LAS Department.  


Roberta Panzanelli's Picture


Dr. Panzanelli has received several awards, including the Vinciana Scholarship at UCLA. Recently, she won a competition for the revision of the “Atlas of the Tadrart Acacus rock art” in southwestern Libya (UNESCO World Heritage Site, 1985). She was awarded the 2022 Otis College Faculty Development.


  • Review: Geoffrey Symcox, Jerusalem in the Alps. The New Jerusalem of Varallo and the Sanctuaries of North-Western Italy, Brepols Publishers, 2019. In Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 73, Issue 3 (Fall 2020), pp. 1084-1085.
  • “It’s About Time: Gaudenzio’s bel composto at Varallo” California Italia Studies Journal, Vol. 6 Issue 2, 2016. Link:
  • Review, Christine Göttler. ‘Last Things: Art and the Religious Imagination in the Age of Reform’ in Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 4 (Winter 2011), pp. 1229-1231.
  • Ephemeral Bodies, Wax Sculpture and the Human Figure, The Getty Research Institute, 2008. Awards: 2008 Excellence Award, University and College Designers Association.
  • The Color of Life, with Kenneth Lapatin and Eike Schmidt.  Exhibition catalog, J. Paul Getty Trust, 2008. Awards: 2008 Excellence Award, University and College Designers Association; Finalist/Honorable Mention: the 2008 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Awards). 
  • “Compelling Presence: Wax Effigies in Renaissance Florence” in Ephemeral Bodies, The Getty Research Institute, February 2008. Translated and reprinted in: Revista Sans Soleil - Estudios de la imagen, University of the Basque Country and University of Barcelona [VI, 2012/2013] 
  • La Circulation des Œvres d’Art – The Circulation of Works of Art in the Revolutionary Era, 1789-1848, with Monica Preti-Hamard. Presses Universitaire de Rennes, February 2007.
  • “‘hic Hierusalem videat...’  Ipotesi per il progetto di Bernardino Caimi al Sacro Monte di Varallo” in Rivista di Storia e Letteratura Religiosa, 2004, no.1 pp. 409-440.
  • Bernhard von Breydenbach, “Die heyligen Reyssen gen Jherusalem” in The world from here: treasures of the great libraries of Los Angeles, Cynthia Burlingham and Bruce Whiteman, Eds. Los Angeles: UCLA Grunewald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum, 2001. p. 304.