Duke art history professor Hans Joris Van Miegroet dies in Academy Road car crash

Hans Joris Van Miegroet, professor of art and art history, died in a car crash Friday night on Academy Road near Duke University Drive, a source familiar with the situation confirmed with The Chronicle Saturday. 

According to the source, Van Miegroet’s next of kin, students and department chair were notified of his death. 

"As a campus community that is built on relationships, it is difficult to imagine our campus without a beloved faculty member. It is even more difficult when you are in one of Dr. Van Miegroet’s current classes," wrote Debbie Heida, interim associate vice president and dean of students, and Deb Reisinger, interim dean of academic affairs at Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, in a Saturday email to Van Miegroet's students obtained by The Chronicle. 

"Moments like these are a reminder that our time together is precious, and a fleeting gift. I urge you to keep Hans' family, friends, colleagues, and students in your thoughts and to extend your support to them in whatever capacity you can," Dean of Trinity College Gary Bennett wrote in a Sunday statement released on Duke Today

"The department will be posting a more fulsome tribute in the coming days; we will also be planning a memorial for later in the semester. Please refer to our departmental website for developing information," wrote Paul Jaskot, chair of the department of art, art history and visual studies, in an email to The Chronicle. 

The fatal crash happened around 6:30 p.m. The police pronounced Van Miegroet, who was driving, dead at the scene. An investigation by Durham police is ongoing.

Van Miegroet was chair of the art, art history and visual studies department from 2006 to 2014 and served as director of undergraduate studies for the department from 2022 until his death.

"He was a powerful force in our program, leading the charge for the introduction of digital methods into art historical and visual analysis," Jaskot wrote.

Van Miegroet was also serving as the director of the Duke Art, Law & Markets Initiative, a research consortium based at Duke that engages in advanced research on “the role of all kinds of externalities that drive and influence global art markets.” 

His research on economic and statistical analysis of arts markets delved into the intersection between the humanities, arts and sciences, best reflected through his course ARTHIST 231, History of Art Markets, which Jaskot described as "one of the most popular (and legendary) offerings in our department)."

Van Miegroet served as an assistant professor of art, art history and visual studies at Duke from 1988 to 1994 and an associate professor with tenure from 1994 to 2005. He was the director of the department of romance studies from 2005 to 2009 and the director of the visual studies initiative from 2007 to 2011. He was awarded the Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award in 1991. 

He received his master’s in art history from the University of Ghent in 1983, before proceeding to earn his Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1988. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Editor's Note: This story was updated Sunday afternoon with a statement from Paul Jaskot, chair of the department of art, art history and visual studies, Monday morning with a Sunday statement from Dean of Trinity College Gary Bennett and Tuesday evening with a Saturday email sent to Van Miegroet's students. 


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