Art history provides a humanistic foundation for understanding the visual arts. Emphasis is placed on the social, political, historical and religious contexts of art while also analyzing the form and style of artworks. Theoretical and critical literature on interpreting art is an important part of the field, with contributions often coming from fields such as history, anthropology, philosophy, archaeology, literature, philosophy, sociology and religious studies. The discipline requires the development of critical writing and research skills.
With the B.A. degree in art history, there are opportunities in a wide variety of art and art-related fields. Graduates with a major in art history find work in art galleries, public art centers, art libraries and stores dealing with artworks, and qualify for art-oriented positions such as buyers and consultants, tourism industries, and entry-level jobs with art publications, auction houses and museums.
The major also provides an excellent preparation for students planning to pursue a professional or graduate program, including arts management, museum studies, historic preservation, conservation, journalism, and library or information sciences. An M.A. in art history sometimes prepares the student for teaching in community or junior colleges. However, a Ph.D. is necessary for teaching and research positions in colleges and universities, and is increasingly required for museum work.
The Sheldon Museum of Art, adjacent to the department, holds a nationally-recognized collection of American and contemporary art. Art history students take advantage of its exhibitions and collections as part of their coursework and research, and occasional internship opportunities are available there and at the Great Plains Art Museum.
Internships are available at the Sheldon Museum of Art and the Great Plains Art Museum, as well as other local museums.
Also, the Dan and Barbara Howard Award for Art Historical Writing in the amount of $2,000 is awarded annually to the best art history paper.
- Dr. Andrea Bolland, specializing in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art
- Dr. Michael Hoff, specializing in Greek and Roman archaeology
- Dr. Wendy Katz, specializing in American art
- Dr. Christin Mamiya, specializing in modern and contemporary art
- Dr. Alison Stewart, specializing in Northern Renaissance art
- Dr. Marissa Vigneault, specializing in modern and contemporary art
- Dr. William K. Rudolph, Curator of American Art and Decorative Arts, Milwaukee Art Museum
- Dr. Daniel Siedell, Director of Special Projects, Whale and Star (studio of contemporary artist Enrique Martinez Celaya)
- Dr. Darius Spieth, Associate Professor, Louisiana State University
- Sheldon Museum of Art
- Great Plains Art Museum
All of the faculty have active research programs and publish widely. Dr. Michael Hoff directs a temple excavation in Turkey during the summers allowing art history and archaeology students the opportunity to do fieldwork with Dr. Hoff at this site.