Should I major in Art History? What do I learn?

Should I major in Art History? What do I learn?

What is art history?

A work of art can be a historical structure, a museum display, a film, or a book. Some works of art can contain poetry and remoteness. Change, culture, criticism, and admiration are all parts of art history. Studying a major in Art History, which may initially appear to be a ‘romantic affair’ that only artistic minds can pursue, encompasses practical skills such as searching and evaluating documents. These skills are essential to expanding the range of employment opportunities in the workplace more quickly and thoroughly, preparing individuals for the future.

Additionally, the capacity to convey ideas, proficiency in interpersonal communication, and a deep appreciation for art are crucial skills for those majoring in art history. These skills pave the way for admissions into galleries, auction houses, and foundation collections, as well as for future research as a teacher. Embracing a major in art history not only nurtures a passion for the subject but also equips individuals with practical and interpersonal skills essential for diverse career paths within the art world.


What do you typically learn in school if you major in Art History?

The study of artworks within the context of their historical development and style is known as art history. When students major in Art History, they learn about Painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, furniture, and other Art History adornments. Fundamental courses in art history consist of Methodology of Art History and Theory, 19th-century Art, Modern Art, Art after Modernism, Postmodern Art, History of The Renaissance, History of Latin America, and Gothic and Baroque styles are all covered. In some schools, feminism as a form of artistic expression is also studied.

In the broader scope, majoring in Art History covers anthropology, archaeological knowledge, Latin language, literature, cinematography, photography, library science, computer skills, and more. While some institutions do not require students to master any software or technology, majoring in art history may involve integrating computers with the creative arts at others. This intersection of traditional and technological aspects within the field emphasizes the dynamic and evolving nature of studying art history.

When students major in Art History, the curriculum teaches them about the histories of the various ethnic groups and cultures that are depicted in the artwork. Artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), digital designs, and 3D printers are just a few of the technological and social media innovations that have drastically altered the way that contemporary art is produced, viewed, and shared in our interconnected world.


Careers in Art History

Career path after getting a major in Art History is very fulfilling. Students can become directors or curators of museums, galleries, arts organizations, archives and libraries. They can also choose to work as editors or writers for art journals and other media.

Careers available for those who major in art history include but are not limited to: Advertising, Architectural Conservation, Architecture, Archivists, Community College Teacher, Design, Editor, Event Planner, Fundraiser, Gallery Management, Arts Grant Officer, Heritage Policy, Interior/Fashion Designer, Journalist, Landscape Architect, Attorney, Marketing & Communications, Media & Communication, Museum Curators, and Museum. The diverse range of career opportunities underscores the versatility and applicability of a major in art history across various professional domains.


Media and Broadcast Assistant

A Media and Broadcast Assistant is responsible for creating marketing materials for a variety of well-known sites, including graphics as necessary. With a major in Art History, employees should also create and keep a client database, perform social media analytics, and keep track of promotions and messages. They need to provide editing and writing support for product sheets, social media posts, and other documents. Lastly, organize data, schedules, and reports related to marketing, communications, and events.


Modern and Contemporary Art Curator

Art curators, especially those who have majored in art history, need to be able to identify extremely high-quality work. They should possess the skills to build and foster strong, trusted collaborative relationships at all levels, including trusted partners, guaranteed disability and insurance benefits, and discounts offered by provincial/municipal reciprocal agreements. Having majored in art history equips them with the ability to lead and effectively deliver on curatorial priorities, including exhibition development, curation, and collections architectural planning. Their education in art history enables them to handle the construction and display of permanent collections of modern and contemporary art.

These curators, with a major in art history, are tasked with creating, organizing, and executing major exhibitions, interpreting artworks, and identifying and studying major trends in visual arts. Their education in art history empowers them to stimulate meaningful understanding of modern and contemporary art through addressing relevant issues and opportunities, often in collaboration with artists and donors. Additionally, those who majored in art history understand the importance of realizing each other’s value by taking responsibility for coaching, motivating, and developing their workforce, highlighting the holistic preparation provided by a major in art history for the multifaceted role of an art curator.


Museum curator

A museum curator, particularly one with a major in art history, is responsible for overseeing museum operations and off-site storage. Those who have majored in art history are equipped to build rapport with art donors and negotiate for specific collections or individual items with a nuanced understanding of artistic value and historical context. Their education in art history prepares them to actively participate in planning and executing special events, contributing to the cultural enrichment of the community.

Majored in art history, curators are instrumental in developing long-term plans for rotating exhibitions, leveraging their knowledge to curate displays that attract new and diverse audiences. They play a crucial role in ensuring the museum’s philosophy is adhered to by working closely with the Collections Committee. Their comprehensive understanding, gained through a major in art history, facilitates proper coordination to maintain the integrity of the museum’s collections and exhibitions.


Universities that offer students a major in Art History

  1. Harvard University – Department of History of Art and Architecture
  2. Yale University – Department of the History of Art
  3. Princeton University – Department of Art and Archaeology
  4. Columbia University – Department of Art History and Archaeology
  5. University of Oxford – Faculty of History of Art
  6. University of Cambridge – Department of History of Art
  7. University College London (UCL) – Department of History of Art
  8. Courtauld Institute of Art (London, UK)
  9. Sorbonne University (Paris, France) – Department of Art History and Archaeology
  10. University of Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan) – Department of Art History and Aesthetics
These universities, known for their world-class faculty, extensive research resources, and access to renowned museums and art collections, provide an enriching environment for studying a major in Art History. Aspiring students aiming for a major in art history should be aware that admission to these universities can be highly competitive. Additionally, it’s crucial to note that some programs may have specific requirements for admission, such as submitting writing samples or portfolios.
Prospective students pursuing a major in art history should carefully review and meet these additional application criteria to enhance their chances of securing a spot in these prestigious programs.

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