Art History - University of Houston
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Natilee Harren
Associate Professor
Program Coordinator
Office: Fine Arts, 104C

Art history is the study of visual production by humans from our beginnings in Africa to the present day. Focused on the visual world, art history is an inherently interdisciplinary field that also draws on the rich intellectual traditions of anthropology, literature, philosophy, psychology, and history.

The University of Houston Art History program engages the city’s art institutions together with the University’s Tier One faculty to create an innovative curriculum for students who want to succeed in the art world. UH Art History provides a firm grounding in the discipline of art history within a Tier-1 research university while providing deeply meaningful experiences in the collections of the city's major arts institutions. We believe in broadening access to this exemplary program by welcoming scholars with a wide range of backgrounds.

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 they can receive academic credit with faculty approval.

The city of Houston is a dynamic environment in which to study art and art history. Its large and diverse art collections include, among others, the renowned Museum of Fine Arts and its branches in decorative arts, the Menil Collection, the Museum of Printing History, the Holocaust Museum, the Contemporary Arts Museum, the Center for Contemporary Craft, as well as many alternative art spaces and galleries that focus on temporary exhibitions. Art History students are encouraged to engage with these cultural institutions over the course of their studies, for class assignments, internships, and general self-enrichment. 

Guest Scholars

Each year, a scholar doing groundbreaking work in the field is invited to give the Annual Distinguished Lecture in Art History. In addition to an evening lecture and reception, our highlighted speaker visits with our graduate students for a more intimate seminar discussion.  

We also organize materials-based workshops, convenings on the state of the field, and thematic speaker series, alongside guest lectures during regularly scheduled classes. Recent speakers include Thomas Crow,  Susan Cahan, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Charlene Villaseñor Black, Katy Siegel and Caroline Jones. 


Internships and Independent Studies

Art history majors with an art history GPA of 3.0 or higher are eligible for internships. Interns learn about the operation of non-profit arts institutions by working as curatorial and research assistants, and in educational programming and preparations departments, including: the Blaffer Art Museum of the University of Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Menil Collection; Lawndale Art Center; Diverseworks, the Houston 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 faculty or from the undergraduate advisor. Students may develop proposals for academic credit connected with an internship in consultation with art history faculty. 



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 wide variety of professional careers. The two main career paths for those who wish to continue working directly in the arts are: curatorial and education positions in museums and galleries, and teaching and research at colleges and universities. Such careers usually require further graduate study in art history in M.A. or Ph.D programs.  

Many undergraduate art history majors have also gone on to graduate study in Law, Anthropology, Architecture, Business, Library Science, Arts Leadership, Creative Writing and many other fields.