History of Art

What Is Art History?

Art History is the attempt to better understand human expression through the study of the visual arts of past and present cultures.

Why Study Art History?

Art history helps you learn about the past. It analyzes and interprets images as artifacts. It approaches its subject in terms of what it can tell us about the culture who produced it. Art history is like detective work; it involves researching and piecing together the facts.

Art history helps develop visual literacy skills. It looks deeply and critically at not only painting, sculpture and architecture, but also graphic arts, film, photography, fashion, advertising and much more. Bombarded by images, we live in an increasing visual culture.

Art history helps fine-tune other academic skills. It is based on researching, reading and communication, both oral and written, and will therefore help to hone these essential skills.

Art history is one of the broadest fields in the Humanities. It incorporates history, philosophy, literature, religion, music, anthropology and more. Why pick one area when you can combine them all into one major?

Art history can help you find an interesting and rewarding career. It opens to the doors to a variety of fascinating fields, including careers in museums, auctions house, academia, publishing houses and much more. 

Art history is fun. Its majors view a wide variety of images, some wild and wonderful! Sweet Briar art history majors are given ample opportunities to visit galleries, including our own Pannell Gallery, as well as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and many public museums in Washington, D.C., and New York City. They are strongly encouraged to study abroad, as well. 

Additional opportunities on campus:

Art Collection and Galleries

Arts Management Program

Career Services Office (campus student employment and internships)