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Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
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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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

The M.A. degree in Art History transforms a passion for the arts and cultural history into a career path. Through the completion of a master’s paper or thesis, foreign language...
Palmer Museum painting analysis by Maggie Davis.

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

Art History awarded grant to support research workshop

The Department of Art History has received a $20,000 grant from the Kress Foundation in support of a week-long graduate workshop.

The Department of Art History has received a $20,000 grant from the Kress Foundation in support of a week-long graduate workshop that combines technical analysis, color science and art history.


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Art History, IST faculty win NEH grant to use computer-aided image analysis

Art History and IST faculty win NEH grant to use computer-aided image analysis in art historical research.
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Chang Tan hosts virtual symposium and workshop

Chang Tan, Assistant Professor of Art History, co-hosted with Laura Kina (University of DePaul) the a virtual symposium & workshop, "Remaking Worlds: The Geographical Imagination of Global Asias through Art


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Faculty Spotlight

Koan Mask, by the Nuna (Nunama) of Burkina Faso. Part of the Palmer Museum's African Brilliance collection catalogued by the VRC.
Koan Mask, by the Nuna (Nunama) of Burkina Faso. Part of the Palmer Museum's African Brilliance collection catalogued by the VRC.

William Dewey

Associate Professor of Art History

William J. Dewey, associate professor of art history in the College of Arts and Architecture, curated the exhibition African Brilliance: A Diplomat’s Sixty Years of Collecting featuring eighty-three objects by twentieth-century African artists from a variety of cultures across the continent. The works include carved and decorated wooden sculptures, natural fiber and beaded textiles, metalwork, and ceramic pots that represent household, community, and ritual practices. Accompanying the exhibition is is the Palmer Museum of Art’s first online catalogue complete with photos and 3D views of each object, essays by the curators, and interviews with Davis.

Dewey was  also part of the curatorial team for “Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths” at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, recently described in The New York Times as one of “three knockout art shows to see in Los Angeles right now.”

Head shot of Associate Professor of Art History, Director of the African Studies Program, College of the Liberal Arts William

Our Facilities

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

Visual Resources Centre

The Visual Resources Centre (VRC) supports the faculty and students of the Department of Art History by fostering the use of new technologies and


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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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Alumni Spotlight

Penn State Art History alumna Kimberly Henrikson

Alumni Spotlight

Kimberly Henrikson

B.A. in Art History

Kimberly Henrikson is executive director at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking (Norwalk, CT) and president of the Print Club of New York. She is newsletter editor for the International Print Club Societies organization, and held a senior position at Artstor, where she managed training and support services for digital image licensing in higher ed and museum communities around the world.

Collage of art prints in galleries and museums.