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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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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 +

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

McCune Bruhn part of interdisciplinary team working on enhancing online viewing of artwork

Heather McCune Bruhn, assistant teaching professor of art history, is co-principal investigator on a multidisciplinary team that received an $83,040 grant from IMLS.

Heather McCune Bruhn, assistant teaching professor of art history, is co-principal investigator on a multidisciplinary team that received an $83,040 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services for

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Scholar of Asian, Asian-American art to give Dickson Lecture

Dr. ShiPu Wang will present “'Other' as Method: Rediscovering Transracial and Transcultural Alliances in American Modernism” as part of the Dickson Lecture Series on Oct. 21.
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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.
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Oct 21

Art History Dickson Lecture: Shipu Wang
Shipu Wang, Professor of Art History and Visual Studies, University of California Merced  As part of the Department of Art History’s Dickson Lecture Series, and in


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Committee on Early Modern Studies Book Talk

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Nov 2

ERIN ROWEAssociate Professor of History and Vice Dean of Undergraduate Education, Johns Hopkins UniversityBook talk – “Black Saints in Early Modern Global Catholicism”*Registration and link

Sawyer Seminar Transmission and Social Fission

Borland Bldg 112
image by Holli Turner
Nov 11

lecture by Kris Lane, "Transmission & Social Fission:  Potosi & the Great Andean pandemic of 1717-1722" Events – A Sawyer Seminar at Penn State |

Committee for Early Modern Studies

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Nov 15

CÉCILE FROMONTAssociate Professor of Art History, Yale UniversityLecture on Dr. Fromont’s work on missionary artwork and images in the early modern Kongo and Angola (Title

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Faculty Spotlight

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

Centers + Venues

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.

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

Alumni Spotlight

Cali Buckley

Ph.D. in Art History (+Dual Ph.D.) 2017

Cali Buckley is the Content Manager of Education and Intellectual Property at CAA in New York City. At her multifaceted job she coordinate grants, awards, and juries; affiliated societies; the RAAMP program (Resources for Academic Art Museum Professionals); and will be putting together new programs for education and professional development. She participates in Museums and Humanities Advocacy Days asking Congress to consider funding the Institute of Museum and Library Studies (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Fulbright-Hays program.

zoom meeting museum discussion
woman accepting award