Diana Lempel
Diana Lempel
writer, research designer, curator, hostess

diana lempel

is a  hostess, historian, designer,

interviewer, curator, and writer



Diana Lempel has a slow paced, multidisciplinary and place-based approach to the public humanities, based in design thinking and a focus on meaning and narrative.  She brings thoughtfulness, discipline, and an interest in creative, interdisciplinary methods to every project.

As a public humanist, Diana finds herself using and creating community archives, investigating institutional histories, creating holidays and imagining clubs, and thinking about food and natural resources, geology, the creative economy, artist colonies, and residencies and more. She combines her background in art and design with experience in oral history and hospitality to produce creative and emotionally honest research, spaces, educational experiences and public programs.  

Current areas of inquiry include: the women who created "archival communities" and institutions in 19th century New England, asking questions about how to live well and think well together; Progressive Era conservation - and how to make it magical; experiences of enchantment in the American landscape; and the world underground in my neighborhood in Cambridge, MA (a co-exploration with my 2.5 year old son).

Diana is the co-founder and co-principal of Practice Space, a storefront studio for art, design, and research in Cambridge, MA. She lives in Cambridge and spends time in northern California, where she grew up.

Diana is on Twitter @publiccurator


selected work


+ listening as a research method and an interpretive practice

+ training across disciplines, including radio, sound art/creative ethnography, dance, and oral history



PAUSE / oral history

An ongoing effort to interview people who work with their hands about how they put down roots.  More audio work can be found on Soundcloud.

teaching, facilitating, And public programs

+ project-based learning, site-based pedagogy, creative research methods

+ emphasis on historical understanding, metacognition and intrinsic motivation.


A workshop series of professional listeners across disciplines : including musicians, field researchers, human service providers, and hospitality professionals.  Includes exercises and peer-discussion for improving listening as a creative practice, listening as attention, and self-care for listeners. 


In 2015 Diana founded Our Riverside, a summer program at the Cambridge Community Center. The program combines local history and design thinking, for Cambridge youth to explore and teach about their neighborhood. Conducting original research based on their own personal interests, students create installations and multimedia research projects.


Diana has created workshops and public programming for students and practitioners to develop their skills in interpretation, installation, and media/experience design, and deepen their knowledge.  These workshops include Hack the Museum at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Doing History series (and more) at the Cambridge Historical Society, and Oral History for Planners and Designers.


Graduate teaching work has included developing assignments, leading discussions, lecturing and overseeing student projects.

+ "Urban Tone," a workshop on listening for the Art + Ecology course at MassArt (2018)

+ Qualitative Methods for Urban Planning (Harvard GSD, 2012 + 2014)

+Discourses and Methods in Urban Design (Harvard GSD, 2015)

+ US and the World 24: Reimagining Boston (Harvard College, 2015)

interpretation and installation

+ using hospitality to create immersive, shared experiences

+ sensitivity to language and storytelling

+ multidisciplinary engagement with archival material and site

culinary heirloom project

A collaboration with ONCE to produce a Mother's Day tea party with menu based on archival recipes from 100 years ago. The event asked the questions, what of our relationships lives past us? How do we stay close with our loved ones? The project was created as part of the Harvard metaLAB Curatorial Innovation Fellowship.


A digital exhibition, storytelling venue, and series of writings produced for the New Bedford Working Waterfront Festival, investigating the role of families in the fishing industry.  Research included home visits, oral histories, and interpretation of hundreds of hours of community conversations.  Funded by the Mass Humanities Scholar in Residence program.


Additional projects include:

+ Ghosts in the Archive, featuring work and a workshop by artist Avery Williamson at the Cambridge Historical Society in 2015. curator

+ Magazine Beach: A Place Apart, exhibition and community programming about the history and future of a park in Cambridge, MA.  project editor

+ Tasting Table, a weekly dining event in public space.


research + Writing + EDITING

+ place, land + landscape, narrative, memory + preservation, motherhood and community

cultivating places

Personal blog about urbanism, historic preservation, and travel from 2009-2015.  Includes text of lectures, and articles published elsewhere, such as Planetizen, MIT CoLab, the DSNI 30th anniversary book, Seeing The Woods, and more.

producing authenticity: haymarket

Master's thesis study of Boston's Haymarket, in 2013. Included in Historic New England's Haymarket Project.


Collection of small works by mother-artists and mother-writers, combined with a found collection of porcelain fragments from the Charles Riverbanks.


Content, project design, and evaluation for Good Magazine's first annual Neighborday in 2013, a celebration of neighboring.


+ The Food is Not the Only Thing, an ethnographic profile of a day at Bondir Restaurant, Cambridge, which won the honorable mention in Digest, a Foodways journal's annual Samuelson Essay Competition and also contributed to a session at the NCPH conference's session on local food.

+ Let's Go: Italy 2006, coverage of Rome and Sardinia.