About the Program
The art history BA program serves students who view the arts as central to the process of intellectual growth.
The study of art history introduces students to a wide range of visual culture. The program offers study of the various forms of art and architecture: painting, sculpture, graphics, decorative arts, photography, and design. These media are approached through the contexts of social, cultural, and political history, theoretical methods, anthropology, and religious traditions. A large selection of courses covers all periods of history and many of the world’s cultures.
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 several periods (e.g., medieval, Renaissance, early modern, or modern). Students are urged to take at least two 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, a critical study, or a project based on original works of art within the New York area.
Many alumni choose to pursue their interest in art history through employment at museums and galleries. Other alumni have chosen to work in film production and publishing and as art handlers and transporters. Some have earned advanced degrees in art history, art therapy, and art education.