Narkiss was an expert in illuminated medieval Latin and Hebrew manuscripts and the relationship between Christian and Jewish visual art. After the collapse of communism in Europe in 1989, he embarked on a project to document the synagogues there.
Narkiss was the Nicolas Landau Professor of Art History at the Hebrew University, where he taught since 1964. In 1979, he created the Center for Jewish Art to document endangered Jewish art and architecture.
Narkiss was a visiting professor at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, Brown University and Princeton University. In addition to his teaching positions, he was art editor of the Masada Press (1963—1975) and Encyclopaedia Judaica. He was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Jewish Art in 1974—1986.