Skip To Main Content
Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Select where to search:



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

Program Application Deadline The deadline for applications for AY 2022–23 is January 15, 2022. 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

Department of Art History names Penn State Sawyer Seminar postdoctoral fellow

Jointly sponsored by the College of Arts and Architecture and the College of the Liberal Arts, the Sawyer Seminar welcomes Beatriz Véliz Argueta as a postdoctoral fellow.

Historian Beatriz Véliz Argueta has been named the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for the ongoing Penn State Sawyer Seminar, “Transmission, Containment, Transformation: A Comparative Approach to Architecture and Contagion in Early


Read More

University Libraries publishes 'Art History Dissertations' online bibliography

Penn State University Libraries’ Open Publishing recently launched the online “Art History Dissertations and Abstracts from North American Institutions Bibliography.”
Read More

A&A students use SEN grants to support their educational and career goals

Eleven College of Arts and Architecture students received Student Engagement Network grants this fall to fund a range of projects including a play, a film, travel, and more.
Read More
Place holder image for Events
Feb 24

Sawyer Seminar: Architectures of Containment

via Zoom
lecture by Lisa Pon, "Death on Paper in Early Modern Venice" Events – A Sawyer Seminar at Penn State | Fall 2021-Spring 2022 (psu.edu)if you

Events

Go. Explore.

Sawyer Seminar: Geospatial Approaches to Early Modern Cities

Borland Bldg 112
Place holder image for Events
Mar 3

lecture by Fares el-Dahdah, "imiagineRio" Events – A Sawyer Seminar at Penn State | Fall 2021-Spring 2022 (psu.edu)if you are not able to attend in


Sawyer Seminar Places of Confinement and Evasion

Borland Bldg 112
Place holder image for Events
Mar 24

lecture by Robin Thomas, "Space Evaders:  The Complex Case of Enclosing Architecture in Early Modern Italy" Events – A Sawyer Seminar at Penn State |


Sawyer Seminar Comparative Early Modern Visual and Material Culture at Penn State

Borland Bldg 112
Place holder image for Events
Apr 14

lecture by Christy Anderson, "A Community of Strangers:  Ships at Sea" Events – A Sawyer Seminar at Penn State | Fall 2021-Spring 2022 (psu.edu)if you


See All Events

Faculty Spotlight

Fragile religious mural painted by Christianized Maya artists in Yucatán, Mexico
Fragile religious mural painted by Christianized Maya artists in Yucatán, Mexico

Amara Solari

Professor of Art History and Anthropology

Amara Solari teaches courses in Latin American art from the pre-Columbian through the colonial period. Her research focuses on processes of cultural, visual, and theological interchange between indigenous groups and Spanish settlers of New Spain. She recently received a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of her research project, “Maya Christian Murals of Yucatán: Indigenous Catholicism in Early Modern New Spain,” which focuses on fragile religious murals painted by Christianized Maya artists in Yucatán, Mexico, between 1550 and 1750.

Amara Solari

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


Learn More
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


Learn More
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


Learn More

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.