About the Program
The art history BA centers engagement with art—as a material, critical, and social practice—in a curriculum designed to foster students’ curiosity and intellectual growth. The program is committed to the rigorous interrogation of received histories and their relation to entrenched systems of oppression, and to producing scholars equipped to contribute to building a more just world.
The study of art history introduces students to all periods of history and many of the world’s cultures. The program offers study of the various forms of art and architecture: painting, sculpture, graphics, decorative arts, photography, design, and performance. Scholarly approaches to these media emphasize social, cultural, and political history and explore a wide range of interdisciplinary and theoretical methods.
Study on Campus, in New York City, and Abroad
The program is designed to introduce not only subjects but approaches: visual and stylistic analysis, criticism, iconography, historiography, and methodology. Because art history requires the study of original works of art, many courses are supplemented by field trips to museums and art galleries in New York City, just 20 miles south of the Purchase campus. The on-campus Neuberger Museum of Art is also a major resource. Internships and the college’s study abroad programs provide many opportunities for undergraduates to get involved in the art world outside the classroom.
The Junior Year
During the junior year, students select a broad field of study that includes the architecture, sculpture, and painting of one of several periods or areas (e.g., Renaissance, African, or modern). Students are urged to take at least three courses outside art history related to their area of study (e.g., courses in 19th- and 20th-century literature, history, and/or philosophy, if the focus is on the modern period). The Junior Seminar in Art History examines selected approaches to the study of art history by analyzing various interpretations of the work of a single artist.
The Senior Project
The program culminates in a two-semester senior project, in which each student uses the methods of art history in an in-depth project that may take a variety of forms: a research thesis, an exhibition at the Neuberger Museum of Art, or a critical study.
Many alumni choose to pursue their interest in art history through employment at museums and galleries, often earning advanced degrees in art history and museum studies. Other alumni have chosen to work in such fields as art education, film production, publishing and as art handlers and transporters. Still others pursue careers outside of the arts, but find the critical thinking, visual literacy, and subject matter of this field meaningful and useful to their lives and work.