Department ofArt History
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.
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.
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.”
News from A&A
Lucarelli receives grant to inventory School of Theatre’s Fashion Archive
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
Alumnus and New York City art dealer makes transformative gift to Palmer Museum
Interactive art installation highlights power of interdisciplinary collaboration
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.
Centers + Venues
Palmer Museum of Art
Borland Project Space
Center for Virtual/Material Studies
Brisa Smith FloresB.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.