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Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
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B.A. in Art History

Transform your love of art
into a life with art.
It's one thing to look at a work of art and appreciate it. It's another to know how, why, and what a painting, music video, or building means on a deeper level. Investigate art to its fullest by pursuing an Art History degree at Penn State with renowned scholars, graduate student mentors, and the resources of a Big Ten University to guide you.

Passionate about art, architecture, history, languages, travel, and other cultures? Combine your interests!

The Penn State Department of Art History offers lecture/discussion courses and seminars on a broad range of topics from Ancient to Contemporary art. Courses are taught by fifteen faculty members, and three affiliate faculty members (who are curators in the Palmer Museum of Art).

Our connection with the Palmer Museum of Art as well as our proximity to major art cities, including New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. offer students the opportunities of a friendly college town setting with the art world at their fingertips.

Is a Bachelor's Degree in Art History right for you?

The Bachelor’s Degree in Art History is your ticket to an education that will bring the world closer through art, architecture, cultures, languages, travel, museums, and history. Our close-knit community provides you with direct access to top faculty researchers in the field, committed to supporting you.

Freshmen enroll first as general students at Penn State and then declare the Art History major once they have earned grades at the University. Freshmen may begin their studies at any Penn State location, but majors must study at University Park to complete their degrees. Transfer students are considered for admission to University Park.

Students can take courses in Ancient to Contemporary art and architecture with faculty members who specialize in:

  • African and African Diaspora American
  • Ancient Egyptian
  • Architectural History
  • Baroque
  • Contemporary
  • East Asian
  • European and British
  • Medieval
  • Modern
  • Museum Studies
  • Pre-Columbian and Colonial Latin America
  • Renaissance
  • South Asian
Palmer Museum of Art x-ray fluorescence investigation.

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.

Level Up

Seize these opportunities, make the most of your education.

Suggested Minors
Art History Minor

Pursuing another major? The Art History minor can help you gain a critical understanding of visual culture in a diversity of societies around the world.

Architectural History Minor

The interdisciplinary minor in architectural history is a perfect match with the B.A. in Art History.

Student Opportunities

The Department of Art History has work-study positions in the Visual Resources Centre and the departmental office. The Palmer Museum of Art also has work-study and internship opportunities.

A wide range of scholarships and grants are available to support student participation in symposia, study abroad, and service opportunities. Additionally, numerous financial and honor awards recognize student scholarly and leadership successes.

Study Abroad
Todi Summer Study

Spend the summer immersed in art with the Todi Summer Study Abroad program and visit Rome, Florence, and everywhere in between with a cohort of engaged students.

What can you do with an Art History degree?

The real question is what can’t you do? Get creative!

  • https://datausa.io/profile/cip/500703/#about
  • https://www.theartcareerproject.com/careers/art-history/
  • https://learn.org/articles/Art_History_Majors_Salary_and_Career_Questions_Answered.html

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

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