Professor Hoorn is an art historian and curator who was educated at The University of New South Wales where she graduated with honours in Australian History in 1978; at University of California, Berkeley where in 1981 she completed a Master's degree in Art History studying with Herschel B. Chipp, Svetlana Alpers and Warburg Institute historian Leopold Ettlinger; and at the University of Melbourne where she commenced her doctoral studies in Art History with Bernard Smith in 1983. She took up two research fellowships at the University of London in the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies in 1984 and 1986.
Professor Hoorn was appointed to a Lectureship in the Department of Fine Arts in 1987 completing her PhD in 1988. She was promoted to senior Lecturer in 1990 and Associate Professor in 2000 before taking up a personal chair in Visual Cultures in 2007. She has undertaken periods of research at UC Berkeley where she was a fellow in Art History in 1994; at Yale University where she was Visiting Fellow in the Centre for British Art in 1995; in the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University where she was a fellow in 1997 and 2000. She is currently Director of Gender Studies in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne. Professor Hoorn has curated a number of very successful exhibitions. Her most recent book of essays, Reframing Darwin: Evolution and Art in Australia , accompanied the exhibition of the same title, shown at the Ian Potter Museum of Art in July-September 2009, as part of the celebrations for the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin.
Professor Hoorn has published eight books and many articles in the fields of Eighteenth and Nineteenth British and French Academic painting; Gender and Orientalism; Darwinian theory in film and painting; Australian Pastoralisms; Australian Indigenous art; Genderi