Why Study Art History?

Art history teaches students to analyze the visual, sensual evidence to be found in diverse works of art, architecture, and design in combination with textual evidence. By honing skills of close looking, description, and the judicious use of historical sources, art history offers tools and vocabulary for interpreting the wealth of visual culture that surrounds us, as well as building a historically grounded understanding of artistic production in varied social and cultural contexts.

The major and minor in art history, as well as the minor in architectural studies, introduce students to a diversity of cultures and approaches that reflect the correspondingly global and interdisciplinary commitments of the department. Courses frequently draw upon the rich collections of the Smart Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, and other cultural institutions across the city as well as the city’s built environment in order to enhance traditional classroom experiences with the distinctive kind of object-driven learning that art history has to offer.

The unique combination of skills that art history teaches—visual analysis and its written communication—are valuable to any future career. University of Chicago art history students have gone on to work in academia, museums, art galleries, and auction houses, as well as to careers in architecture, preservation, finance, consulting, advertising, law, and medicine.