Courses in art history investigate the main tendencies, major artists, and important works in both Western and Asian art.

Photograph of people viewing art in an art museum.
A docent leads a tour of the Allen Memorial Art Museum. Photo credit: Courtesy of Scott Shaw

The fundamental aim of all these studies is to develop your historical knowledge, visual sensitivity, and connoisseurship, as well as your ability to write analytical and critical essays.

Art history faculty present material through slide lectures, often with class discussion, and supplemented by reading in texts and source books, plus visits to the Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM). We offer art history courses in four separate groups. First- and second-year courses provide a broad introduction to the field as an intellectual enterprise and include First-Year Seminars and lectures. These courses satisfy none of the requirements for completing the major in art history and may not be applied toward major credit.

Courses at the 200 level introduce the methods and concepts peculiar to the discipline. The emphasis is on acquiring the visual skills essential for the close, analytical scrutiny of works of art. To that end, these courses make intensive use of the collections of the AMAM.

Courses at the 300 and 400 level comprise the core of the art history major. Students study and do research in major periods and styles in the art historical fields taught in the department. We also offer a yearlong art history honors program.

Majors need two history courses in two different periods or cultures, and must have a reading knowledge of French, German, Italian, Chinese or Japanese, especially if considering graduate study.

Students who complete the art history major will be well prepared to enroll in graduate work in art history and, in some cases, can enter museum work, teaching, and related occupations.