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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.


See All Art History Faculty


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.


Visit the Research + Publications page



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

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

Zolli appointed Agnes Scollins Carey Early Career Professor

Dan Zolli is the third recipient of the College of Arts and Architecture’s Agnes Scollins Carey Memorial Early Career Professorship in the Arts.

Daniel Zolli, assistant professor of art history, has been appointed the third recipient of the College of Arts and Architecture’s Agnes Scollins Carey Memorial Early Career Professorship in the Arts.


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Global Asias Opening Reception

The opening reception for  Global Asias: Contemporary Asian and Asian American Art from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family  Curated by  Chang Tan was held Friday, August


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Chang Tan Curates Global Asias Exhibit

The special exhibition Global Asias: Contemporary Asian and Asian American Art from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation curated by Chang Tan, Assistant Professor of Art


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Students in the midst of an art-making activity
Sep 30

Sawyer Seminar: Sacred Cities: Mobility and Transmission

Held on Zoom. Please register.
lecture by Rosalind O'Hanlon, "City of Possibilities:  Aspiration and Transgression in Mughal Banaras" Events – A Sawyer Seminar at Penn State | Fall 2021-Spring 2022

Events

Go. Explore.

Museum Conversation: Place to Place

https://psu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_V3bK37saTo-z2XFOBlwfWQ
Place holder image for Events
Oct 7

Adam Thomas, Curator of American Art  Take a virtual jaunt through the gallery to “see” Place to Place: Recent Gifts of American Drawings and Watercolors, 1900–1950 and enjoy a guided discovery of recent


Committee for Early Modern Studies Book Talk

https://sites.psu.edu/cems
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Oct 8

Gábor Ágoston, Associate Professor of History, Georgetown University.Book talk – “The Last Muslim Conquest: The Ottoman Empire and Its Wars in Europe” (Cosponsored by Penn


Gallery Conversation - Global Asias: Jordan D. Schnitzer and Chang Tan

Palmer Museum of Art
Place holder image for Events
Oct 8

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to participate in a conversation with collector and philanthropist Jordan D. Schnitzer and Chang Tan, Assistant Professor of Art History and Asian Studies and guest


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Faculty Spotlight

video
John Hoke, Nike chief design officer describes how Dr. Zabel influenced his path.

Craig Zabel

Associate Professor of Art History

Dr. Zabel teaches courses in modern architecture, with particular emphases on the architecture of the United States, Germany, and Russia. His publications are primarily in the areas of early twentieth-century architecture, bank architecture, Prairie School architects, American public architecture, skyscrapers, and contemporary architects. His essay on Penn State’s architecture was published in This is Penn State: An Insider’s Guide to the University Park Campus (Penn State Press). His current research explores the history of the skyscraper and American popular culture, from P.T. Barnum’s oddities and NY’s Newspaper Row to the cinematic Emerald City of Oz. He is a recipient of the College of Arts and Architecture Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching, Penn State’s Graduate Program Chair Leadership Award, and the Penn State Teaching Fellow Award:  The Alumni Association and Student Award for Teaching Excellence.  Dr. Zabel served as Head of the Department of Art History from 1998 to 2017, after serving as interim head from 1996 to 1998.   In 2019, he founded the Iconic Modern Chairs collection in Penn State’s Architecture & Landscape Architecture Library.

Headshot of Penn State Associate Professor of Art History Craig Zabel

Our Facilities

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

Center for Visual/Material Studies

The Center for Visual/Material Studies (CVMS) supports the faculty and students of the Department of Art History by fostering the use of new technologies


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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

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.