About Art History and Archaeology
The Department of Art History and Archaeology at
Washington University in St. Louis has a rich past and a
vibrant present. One of the oldest Art History programs west
of the Mississippi, the Department was an important force in
establishing recognition for
Art History outside of the eastern
United States. The program was built by some of the
foremost figures in the discipline, including Horst Janson,
Frederick Hartt, Jean Boggs, and George Mylonas. The
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (formerly the Washington
University Gallery of Art), founded in 1881, is home to one of
the most important modern art collections in the Midwest,
and is one of the most distinguished university collections in
the United States.
Now over a century in the making, our graduate and
undergraduate programs are small but known for their
excellence. With degree programs from the undergraduate
to the Ph.D. level, our faculty offers training in art from the
classical period to the contemporary movement. Because of
our modest size, our students receive invaluable personal
attention and extensive opportunities to research and gain
important museum experience.
Washington University’s Resources
Our rich resources include an excellent Art and Architecture
library, an established field trip program that affords our
students opportunities to visit major national exhibitions and
collections, and an expansive lecture series that attracts
important Art History scholars to speak and provide special
seminars to our students. The Visual Resources Center
actively develops digital image collections encompassing a
broad range of visual culture, particularly in the areas of art
and architecture, and houses a growing collection of digital
images as well as a digital image subscription to Artstor and
other databases with hundreds of thousands of images.
The Department of Art History and Archaeology at
Washington University is an excellent choice for those
seeking a program that is intimate yet broad ranging, and
historically significant with an eye on the future.
The Undergraduate Program
Students in the Undergraduate Art History program study a
broad range of visual culture, locating objects in their larger
political and social context. We encourage our students to
overlap their studies with other fascinating fields — especially anthropology, archaeology, classics, history,
literature, philosophy, religion, and foreign languages — to
get a comprehensive education.
Our students benefit from working closely with faculty who
are excellent teachers and
active scholars. They take
seminars of no more than 14 students, developing writing
and presentation skills that prepare them for future
or academic work. Our students also benefit
from the cultural richness of St. Louis, including the superb
collections of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, The
Pulitzer Foundation, and the nearby Saint Louis Art
Museum. We also frequently sponsor field
trips for students
to travel to see major exhibitions; recent destinations include
Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Washington D.C.
We also sponsor one special on-site course a year, which
incorporates a field trip (free to the class members) into
the curriculum, such as a course on impressionism that included
a five-day trip to museums in New York City, and a course
on Mexican and American Art, that incorporated a five-day
trip to Mexico City. In addition, we provide students with the
to study abroad.
Students who declare a major in Art History and
Archaeology must satisfy the following requirements to
qualify for graduation.
- All majors should take the two one-semester "introductions," during their freshman or
years. These courses,
Introduction to Asian Art and Introduction to Western Art, Architecture and Design serve as prerequisites for most upper-level lecture courses.
- All majors must take at least 24 upper-level art history
credits. Students may count one 200-level course toward
- Majors also take courses from three of four broad areas:
Ancient and Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque,
Modern European and American, and Asian and non-Western.
- Students contemplating graduate school are urged to
take significant course work in foreign languages.
- Interested students are strongly encouraged to take
courses in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Art to
learn more about the techniques of working artists.
- One three-credit course at the 200-level (including a
studio course in the Sam Fox School of Design and
Visual Arts) may count toward the 24 upper-level credits
required for the major.
Exceptional undergraduates may have the opportunity to
take part in the department’s honors program. Each spring,
juniors in high academic standing may propose a research
topic for a senior honors thesis, a six-credit course
completed over the entire senior year. The major with honors
requires a total of 33 credits.
Opportunities abound for paid and unpaid internships. The
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum and the Saint Louis Art
Museum offer positions in their curatorial, registrarial, and
education departments. These jobs often revolve around a
special exhibition, but can also involve working with an
institution’s permanent collection. Recently, students have
completed internships at Sotheby’s Auction House, the Saint
Louis Art Museum, the Regional Arts Commissions, the
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York.
There are many opportunities for undergraduates to get
involved in the art world outside the classroom. Study
abroad programs allow students to experience in depth the
art of a particular culture, whether it is Italian, French,
Japanese, or one of a number of other excellent options.
The Department especially encourages participation in the
programs sponsored by the university language programs
and by the Sam Fox School.
The Department of Art History and Archaeology welcomes
students who wish to pursue a minor in art history. To earn a
minor, students must take Introduction to Asian Art and Introduction to Western Art, Architecture, and Design as well
as courses from at least two of the areas of Ancient-Medieval, Renaissance-Baroque, Modern-American, and Asian and non-Western.
About our Faculty and Staff
The Department of Art History and Archaeology has a faculty of eight full-time members, many of whom hold courtesy
appointments in Classics; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Comparative Literature. The faculty has broad-ranging expertise, from Classical Art and Archaeology to contemporary visual culture. Visiting post-doctoral fellows
offer additional courses in such diverse areas as Islamic and Oceanic Arts. To support teaching, learning, and research, the department has two full-time professional staff members (an administrative assistant and a visual resources curator),
one part-time professional staff member, and over a dozen student employees and research assistants.