Bachelor of Arts in Art History
By studying art history, you will gain a deep understanding of humanity’s fundamental impulse to create. You will study a range of forms of visual expression, including painting, sculpture, graphics, architecture, urbanism, garden design and spectacle, as well as modern and contemporary media. You will learn how artists from different time periods and regions, influenced by environment, society and religion, have produced artifacts of lasting resonance. And you will acquire the knowledge and terminology you need to analyze the art of the past while critically engaging with the art of the present.
Specifically, you will gain a solid familiarity with core monuments and artists, as well as with the principal subfields:
Ancient and medieval art
Renaissance and Baroque art
Modern and contemporary art
Our perspective is global, so we offer expertise in the art and architecture of Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. We also require you to become proficient in one studio art as a way of enhancing your appreciation of art-making.
Brandeis is home to a thriving arts scene. In addition to state-of-the-art studios, we boast the renowned Rose Art Museum, an extraordinary 8,000-piece collection of European and American modernism, American social realism of the 1920s and 1930s, surrealism and more. Our department often partners with the Mandel Center for the Humanities to offer lectures and artists talks. And every year Brandeis celebrates its artists through the Leonard Bernstein Festival of Creative Arts, a multi-day showcase of drama, comedy, dance, art exhibitions, poetry readings and music.
What’s more, nearby Boston and the surrounding area is a locus for superlative art institutions, including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Peabody Essex Museum and Harvard University’s many museums.
Academics and Research
Art History majors may choose to devote two semesters senior year to an independently designed Honors Thesis. This project involves completing primary research in the archives, on site, or in conversation with artists and experts on a topic of your choosing. The final thesis, written under the mentorship of a faculty advisor, is an extended paper putting forth your own arguments, observations, and perspectives.
The Art History major requires two Studio Art courses to provide insight into the creative process only possible through hands-on experience. The opportunity to spend time in the studio is invaluable to understanding the meaning of art objects and the challenge of creating them.
Our art historians are experts in their fields and publish widely. Among their notable books are the standard works on contemporary art, Palestinian art, and early medieval architecture, and monographs on Nicolas Poussin, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo and Kang Youwei. They have contributed to exhibition catalogues at the Musée du Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Tate Modern, London.
Our studio faculty are esteemed professional painters, sculptors and media artists. They have exhibited at major galleries and museums in New York, New England, elsewhere throughout the United States and internationally.
They are also gifted teachers who are dedicated to transmitting their knowledge and passion to you.
Outside the Classroom
Art History students take part in a range of socially and politically engaged activities from internships and independent projects to field trips and out-of-the-classroom events. Majors and minors have worked on projects with environmental activists and artists, they have interned with organizations devoted to democratizing museums, creating street art, expanding museum education, and pursuing arts and environmental justice.
If you are a first year, sophomore or junior with a strong interest and scholastic record in fine arts, you may apply for this award. Remis grants help finance research, tuition at arts-focused programs and art supplies during the summer.
The Rose Art Museum, on campus, offers summer and year-long curatorial internships to Brandeis students interested in exploring the potential of a museum career.
We can also help you find internships at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Institute of Contemporary Art; New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum; and many other museums and galleries across the country.
The Rose Art Museum offers a Gallery Guide Program that is a great introduction to the field of museum education.
Brandeis in Siena is a summer program combining studio experience, art history coursework and field trips to historic cultural sites in Tuscany. Through this culturally immersive learning experience you’ll come in direct contact with seminal works in the canon of art history and Western culture. For more study abroad opportunities, visit the study abroad website.
Graduate Study, Career Opportunities and Alumni
If you’re a senior, you may apply for a Mortimer Hays-Brandeis Traveling Fellowship, which provides travel and living expenses outside the continental United States for one year once you’ve earned your undergraduate degree. Past recipients have traveled to the Canadian Arctic, South Korea, Colombia, Russia and Ecuador, among other places, for research and scholarly production.
Art History majors go on to pursue MA degrees in art history, museum studies, curatorial studies, museum administration and art education as well as pursuing law and business degrees that they could apply to the art world. Majors also go on to earn PhDs in art history at top programs. They go on to become:
professors of art and art history at colleges and universities
authors of publications in different areas of art history
Our art history graduates work throughout the art world, as:
art history professors at top universities
specialists, sales associates, and CEOs of auction houses
curators at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum, the Wadsworth Athenaeum, and Mass MoCA
directors of institutions such as the Whitney Museum, the Houston Museum of Art, the Seattle Museum of Art and the Nasher Museum
leadership roles in non-profit cultural organizations
conservators in museums and private practices