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Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
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Historical + interpretive studies


A Humanities Major in the Arts

Students can major or minor in art history, pursue a minor in architectural history, or work toward earning a museum studies certificate. Students have the opportunity to hold internships or assistantships at Penn State’s Palmer Museum of Art, known particularly for its strong holdings in American, African American, and contemporary art.


Advanced studies with renowned scholars

Our M.A. and Ph.D. programs provide candidates with the opportunity to pursue advanced study directly with renowned scholars. The department’s faculty are internationally recognized scholars and critics known for their dedication to their students.


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Contact + Connect




Research + publications

Scholarly activity and publication are the lifeblood of Penn State Art History. Students, faculty, and staff are involved is a broad array of workshops and symposia, trans-disciplinary research efforts, and frequently author significant publications and presentations. We invite you to explore.


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Featured Research

Virtual/Material: Color and Pigment Graduate Workshop

Funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, this workshop will offer an integrated curriculum of Technical and Digital Art History via the special case history of color. Through a combination of seminars, demonstrations, and hands-on labs led by a distinguished faculty of scientists and historians, participants can expect to leave the workshop better equipped to understand historical colorants and their production as well as the ways in which digital cultures can distort or ameliorate historians’ approach to such colorants. Visit the Color and Pigment Workshop Website


Art History awarded Mellon Foundation grant to develop and host Sawyer Seminar

The College of Arts and Architecture’s Department of Art History in collaboration with the College of Liberal Arts has been awarded $225,000 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a Sawyer Seminar entitled “Transmission, Containment, Transformation: A Comparative Approach to Architecture and Contagion in Early Modern Cities.”


Degrees +
Certificates

Student participating in the Borland Project Space

B.A. in Art History

The B.A. in Art History offers an opportunity for students to explore and examine art while developing a deep understanding of how and why it brings the world closer.
Art History graduate investigating an artifact from the African Brilliance exhibition.

M.A. in Art History

Program Application Deadline The deadline for applications for AY 2023–24 is January 15, 2023. To be assured full consideration, please apply by this deadline. Review individual program descriptions for details...
Students examining archives in Special Collections Library

Ph.D. in Art History (+Dual Ph.D.)

Advanced study of visual arts spanning periods, cultures, and geographies. The Art History Ph.D. program – with Asian Studies or Visual Studies dual-title options – can deepen your expertise and advance your Art History career.
A 20th century decorated wooden box called a Tukula container produced by Kuba carvers from the Democratic Rebublic of the Congo.

Art History Minor

Explore art from ancient to contemporary times, in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. This minor relates visual images to the big questions of humanity.
Students sitting at the ruins of Paestum, sketching the architecture.

Architectural History Minor

The Architectural History minor teaches exceptional visual acuity and analysis. You will better understand space, design processes, and construction practice within historical periods.
A public collection of late artwork displayed at the Palmer Museum of Art. A student explains the meaning of the piece to visitors.

Museum Studies Certificate

Learn the fundamentals of museum studies. Explore the history, theory, and practice of institutional collecting and conservation. Engage in a technical investigation of art.

News from A&A

Lucarelli receives grant to inventory School of Theatre’s Fashion Archive

Carolyn Lucarelli will use a Visual Resources Association Project Grant to create a digital inventory of the Fashion Archive in collaboration with Charlene Gross.

Carolyn Lucarelli, manager of the Center for Virtual/Material Studies (CVMS) in the College of Arts and Architecture, has received the 2022 Visual Resources Association (VRA) Project Grant. She will use


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Alumnus and New York City art dealer makes transformative gift to Palmer Museum

Will Ameringer and Kevin Byrne have committed $4 million to establish the Kevin and Will Ameringer-Byrne Museum Excellence Endowment and have given a collection of 19 works of art.
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Interactive art installation highlights power of interdisciplinary collaboration

The new Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building is now home to “Augmented Encounters,” a quilt-like, interactive art installation.
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Faculty Spotlight

Selected Publications by Daniel Zolli
Selected Publications by Daniel Zolli

Daniel Zolli

Assistant Professor of Art History

Daniel Zolli (he/him/his) is a scholar of early modern European art, with a focus on art in fourteenth-, fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy. His research interests include the materials and techniques of art; workshop practice; art’s theorization in oral tradition and popular folklore; and its interfaces with law. His current book project, entitled Donatello’s Promiscuous Technique, examines that sculptor’s life-long preoccupation with material experimentation. It argues that Donatello cultivated a practice, and a professional persona, willfully at odds with period efforts to locate sculpture among the “liberal arts.” Donatello took his models instead from cunning enterprises aimed at transforming or dissimulating matter (e.g., prestidigitation, cosmetics, alchemy, idolatry, counterfeiting, adulteration), staking his authority on an ability to deceive viewers, and cloud their judgment, through a near-elemental craftiness.

Headshot of Penn State Assistant Professor of Art History Daniel Zolli

Centers + Venues

Our broad program offerings are supported by rich research, archive, and display spaces.
See All Centers + Venues
Art History graduate student digitally investigating color on a painting.
Art History graduate student digitally investigating color on a painting.

Palmer Museum of Art

The Palmer Museum of Art, a dramatic structure designed by Charles W. Moore, is the most prominent visual arts facility on the University Park


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Art History graduate student digitally investigating color on a painting.

Borland Project Space

The Borland Project Space (BPS) illuminates the vibrant research culture of the College of Arts & Architecture. With this initiative we move beyond traditional


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Art History graduate student digitally investigating color on a painting.

Center for Virtual/Material Studies

The Center for Virtual/Material Studies (CVMS) supports research in both Technical and Digital Art History with the aim of fostering synthetic, collaborative scholarship across


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Alumni Spotlight

ARTH_ Brisa Smith Flores Head Shot

Alumni Spotlight

Brisa Smith Flores

B.A. in Art History 2016

Brisa Smith Flores completed her undergraduate career at The Pennsylvania State University. There she worked to earn three degrees, Art History, History, and Global and International Studies, along with three minors in African American Studies, Latin American Studies, and Latino/a Studies. Brisa received a Masters of Liberal Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Her thesis, “The Art of Ethnic Lynching: The Erasure of The Afro-Mexican from the National Identity of Mexico” analyzes how art and visual culture can be weaponized to maintain white supremacy. During her time in Philadelphia, she worked for the Association for Public Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Now, she is a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles in the World Arts and Culture/Dance Department, pursuing a PhD in Culture and Performance. Her dissertation topic explores the ways museums are part of the legacy of colonialism and how communities of the African diaspora across the Global South are challenging or reimaging how museums represent culture and identity.  She has presented her research at major conferences such as the Association of Black Women Historians Symposium, the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora, and the International Conference on the Inclusive Museum. Brisa also serves as the Graduate Fellow for the UCLA Prison Education Program, a program that provides interdisciplinary for-credit courses in correctional facilities across Los Angeles.

A display of two brown masks, one large and one small from alumnus Brisa Flores for Inside the Mask Exhibition, Hammer Museum 2020.