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Art History

The Living Dimension of the Past

What does art of the past tell us about the transformation of visual and material experience over time? By studying art history at F&M, you’ll actively engage with this living dimension of the past through its artifacts, images, architecture, and relevant texts.

About Art History

Our Program and Courses

You can major or minor in art history at F&M. Drawing from courses in architecture, sculpture, painting, fashion, printmaking, and photography, you’ll explore a wide range of subjects, learning to analyze objects visually, historically, critically, and materially. You’ll travel through history and around the world to develop an understanding of many cultural periods in both Western and Asian art. Many art history courses cross paths with those in American Studies, Africana Studies, Classics, religious studies, and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. 

By the time you graduate, you will: 

  • Have acquired skills to both analyze works of art and place them in larger cultural contexts
  • Have gained a thorough understanding of the role that scholarship plays in shaping our perception of the past–both what we know and what we don’t know
  • Have developed a critical perspective on ever changing views of cultural artifacts past and present 

Wondering what an art history course is like? Take a look at our course catalog to see the depth and breadth of what’s available to you. [link to course catalog]

Our Faculty and Staff

Meet the engaged and inspiring people who make up a close-knit community where each professor and staff member get to know you as an individual. Our art history professors are committed teachers and active scholars with broad interests who publish in the most prestigious national and international journals. [link to department directory page]

Learning Outside the Classroom

Research Opportunities 

As you travel back in time exploring art history, you may find yourself wanting to further explore a particular piece, artifact, art period, or something else entirely. If this is the case, you won’t have to wait until graduate school to launch your investigation. F&M art history students are actively engaged in hands-on learning and have extraordinary opportunities to engage in independent or faculty-led research

Sophomores who declare a major in art history or studio art also may apply for the Sophomore Summer Foreign Travel Award in Studio or Art History. This award, established by the late Dean of the College, Bradley R. Dewey, offers funding for students to spend a summer researching or taking a course outside of the U.S. 

Off-Campus Study

Do you want to visit Italy to immerse yourself in Renaissance art? Or maybe you want to spend a semester in Amsterdam to dive into Vincent van Gogh’s influence on modern art? F&M’s rich off-campus study program offers invaluable opportunities to broaden your academic horizons. Many students pursue programs in art history with European and British universities. Art history students have also studied architecture through Columbia University, a program that brings them to Paris for half of the year. 

Learn more about off-campus study at F&M

The Phillips Museum of Art

Located right on campus in F&M’s Steinman College Center, the Phillips Museum of Art fosters an understanding and appreciation of the arts, including contemporary, historical and multicultural materials. The museum partners with academic departments — including art history — to offer opportunities for faculty and staff to extend the walls of their classrooms and engage students in curatorial practices, object-based learning, and research opportunities that draw from the museum’s permanent collection, changing exhibitions, and visiting artists. 

An art history student also can turn to the museum to study curatorial practices or even curate an exhibition working with F&M’s collection of art and objects under the direction of College faculty and museum staff.

Learn more about the Phillips Museum of Art at F&M >

Field Trips

F&M’s location provides the perfect landscape for studying art history. Our home city of Lancaster is regarded as a region of exceptional historical significance, and the city’s convenient location allows for trips to museums and galleries in Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. 

Our Facilities and Resources

Winter Visual Arts Center

The Susan and Benjamin Winter Visual Arts Center (WVAC) provides a magnificent environment for the making and study of visual arts. The WVAC is the home of the art, art history, and film departments, as well as several art studios, a digital lab, an art gallery, a cinema, and more. This building is unlike any other on campus. It earned The Architect’s Newspaper 2020 Best of Design Award in the institutional / higher education category. 

The Laura Ensler ’77 Art History Seminar Room

The Art History Seminar Room in the WVAC is a dedicated classroom space for the study of the visual arts. It is one of the main teaching spaces used for instruction.

The DesChamps Art History Reference Library & Student Workspace

Overlooking one of the WVAC’s many art studios, the DesChamps Art History Reference Library & Student Workspace features a small, non-circulating collection of art history books and serves as a space for students to study and research. The Art History Reference Library & Student Workspace also offers a welcoming and an informal social space, where students and professors can gather over coffee or tea.

Success Beyond F&M

What happens after you graduate with a degree in art history? The writing, analytical, critical thinking, and creative skills you gain by studying art history at F&M are valuable for any post-graduate pursuit. 

Graduate School

Many art history majors go on to study in graduate programs in the U.S. and abroad. Graduates have pursued advanced degrees in art and art history, visual arts, the history of art and archaeology, architectural preservation, museum studies, and more. They enrolled at institutions such as:

  • Harvard University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Columbia University
  • Princeton University
  • College of William & Mary
  • New York University
  • School of Visual Arts
  • University of Chicago

Career Paths

Art history graduates are prepared for a wide array of careers. They hold positions such as: 

  • Architect
  • Art Historian
  • Assistant Conservator
  • Art Director
  • Art History Teacher
  • Fine Arts Assistant Appraiser
  • Librarian
  • Museum Curator
  • Museum Director
  • Museum Educator
  • Professor of Art History

Learn more about the lasting value of an F&M education >


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