Art History Area Overview
Established as a formal academic discipline in the 19th century, art history has evolved into a dynamic area of study that addresses every aspect of art and visual culture, from aesthetic form to broader social and historical contexts. At UH, art history students are encouraged to develop fully their skills in the critical analysis of art and visual culture, and to communicate their insights effectively through writing and oral discourse. The art history classroom is complemented by the extensive resources of the Houston museum and art communities, with ample opportunities for art history students to obtain valuable internships.
Art history faculty members teach a wide range of courses and specialized seminars in their areas of research. Subjects regularly taught by the five full-time faculty include: Pre-Columbian Art; Medieval Art; Northern Renaissance and Baroque Art; 19th through 21st-century American Art; the History of Photography; African American Art; and American Women Artists. Affiliate instructors enrich these offerings with additional courses: Issues in Contemporary Art; 18th, 19th, and 20th-century European Art; Italian Art and Design; Italian Renaissance Art; Ancient Greco-Roman Art; and Ancient Near-Eastern Art
Bachelor of Arts In Art History
Students majoring in art history take a total of 12 courses (36 hours) in art history and 3 courses (9 hours) outside of art history that complement their studies in the field. Basic survey courses and a seminar on art historical theory and method are required for all majors, as is a range of courses in each of four broad periods and cultures. Students can also develop proposals for independent research or projects related to internships, for which, with faculty approval they can receive academic credit.
The Houston community is a rich environment in which to study art and art history. Its large and diverse range of art collections include, among others, the renowned Museum of Fine Arts and its branches in decorative arts, the Museum of Printing History, and the Menil Collection, which have permanent collections. The Holocaust and Contemporary Arts Museums, and the Center for Contemporary Craft, as well as many alternative art spaces and galleries focus on traveling exhibitions. Art History students are encouraged to avail themselves of these collections for coursework, internships, and general self-enrichment.
An undergraduate major in art history develops special skills in writing, critical thinking and analysis of visual and cultural information that can provide the basis for a variety of professional careers. The two main career paths for those who wish to continue working directly in the arts are: curatorial and administrative positions in art museums and galleries; and teaching and research in art history. Curatorial work at major art museums, as well as teaching art history at a college or university level both usually require further graduate study in art history. Students can apply to both (terminal) M.A. programs in art history as well as doctoral programs that offer both the M.A., and the Ph.D.. Graduates of (terminal) M.A. programs often go on to pursue the Ph.D. at other institutions.
Art history majors with an art history GPA of 3.0 or higher are eligible for internships. Interns learn about the operation of for-profit and non-profit art institutions by working as gallery assistants, curatorial and research assistants, and in educational programming and preparations departments, including: the Blaffer Gallery of the University of Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Menil Collection; Lawndale Art Center; Diverseworks, the Museum of Natural Science; the Holocaust Museum, the Museum of Printing History, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Specific information regarding eligibility, requirements and opportunities is available from the faculty and from the undergraduate advisor. Students may develop proposals for academic credit connected with an internship in consultation with art history faculty.