Kitty Zijlmans studied art history at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, and was awarded her Ph.D. in 1989 for a theoretical thesis about art history and systems theory. In 2000, she was appointed Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Leiden. From 2000-2004 she was Chair of the Department of Art History, and from 2002-2004 also Chair of Pallas, Research School of Art Historical and Literary Studies of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Leiden. She was member of the Steering Committee of the ESF (European Science Foundation) Network ‘Discourses of the Visible: National and International Perspectives’ (2003-2007). She is Chair of the Steering Committee of the Research Program ‘Transformations in Art and Culture’ [TKC], funded by the NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research; she was also the project leader of the TKC subprogram ‘CO-OP’s: Inter-territorial Explorations in Art and Science’. In the Spring Semester of 2005, she was visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Since January 2006, she is member of the committee BKV (Art and design) of the Raad voor Cultuur, the Dutch Council for Culture [the advisory board on cultural affairs for the Dutch government], and since March 2006 adviser for the NIAS, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Since January 1, 2009, she is advisor for the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research – NWO/dept. Humanties. In 2010 she was elected member of the Royal Netherlandish Academy of Sciences (KNAW).
Her main interest is in the fields of contemporary art, art theory, and methodology. She is also interested in the position and contribution of women in art and culture, and especially in the ongoing intercultural processes, art and globalization, and the globalization of the art world.
She has contributed to many publications including: World Art Studies: Exploring Concepts and Approaches (Amsterdam, 2008), The Return of the Shreds (Amsterdam, 2008), Site-Seeing. Places in Culture, Time and Space (Leiden, 2006), The Unwanted Land. Tiong Ang / David Bade/ Dirk de Bruyn / Sonja van Kerkhoff / Renée Ridgway / Rudi Struik, Zwolle: Waanders in collab. with museum Beelden aan Zee, 2010.