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Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Art History

The Art History program offers all students the opportunity to study the history of the visual arts in their cultural and social context.

Courses in Western art (Western Europe and America) from Ancient to Modern times, as well as African Art and other selected non-Western fields, are regularly given. Students will learn to describe, analyze, and interpret the form and content of works of art.

They will become familiar with art history theory, methods of analysis and art criticism. In addition, they will gain valuable experience in writing and researching in the field of art history. It is also the mission of the art history program to educate students with a global perspective.

Art History majors and minors are encouraged to participate in summer internship experiences in museums, historic houses, and galleries, and to take advantage of the year-round JMU Studies Abroad programs. The art history program advocates interdisciplinary study in other humanistic disciplines and actively supports students who double major with other related fields.  JMU art history faculty possess expertise in a wide variety of historical areas and enjoy working with students on independent studies, honors theses or exhibition projects.

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The Bachelor of Arts in art history is intended for students who wish to study the history of the visual arts, including the cultural and social context in which they were created. It is the mission of the Art History program to educate students with a global perspective on the arts. European and American art history is emphasized, coupled with opportunities to study selected areas of African, Asian and Meso- American Arts. Students majoring in art history develop a general knowledge of the principal monuments and artists of all major art periods.

SADAH Art History Alumnae outside of Sotheby's

Art History alum Michelle Strickland,
Class of 2014, 
beginning her MA studies
at the Sotheby's Institute of Art, New York


A degree in art history provides you with a diverse range of career opportunities.

Recent alumni have taken jobs at outstanding national museums including the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Yale University Art Gallery.

Other graduates work in private galleries, historic homes, and auction houses.

Some teach at universities, both here and abroad, or act as corporate art consultants. 

Alumni have pursued graduate study in art history at high-ranking programs including Bard Institute of Decorative Arts, Cambridge University (England), Emory University, Georgetown University, Goldsmith's College (Univ. of London), Syracuse University, University of California Los Angeles, University of Texas at Austin, University of South Carolina, University of Virginia, University of Florida, and Yale University.

For a detailed description of these, and many other opportunities for Art History majors, click here.

By taking a range of courses in both art history and studio art, majors learn to appreciate art as an expression of ideas, and art-making as a creative process. After completing introductory survey courses and a seminar in the history and methods of Art History in methodology, students take at least one course in each of the following areas: African/ Oceanic/Asian/Art of the Americas, Ancient to Medieval, Renaissance to Baroque, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century, American, and Modern to Contemporary. These courses provide an invaluable foundation in the discipline, which is then strengthened by a range of electives.

As an art history major, you can take advantage of many opportunities, not only on campus, but also throughout the area. A diverse range of cultural offerings and exhibitions makes J.M.U a vibrant arts community. The Duke Hall Gallery hosts eight to ten shows annually. Past exhibitions have showcased artists such as Miriam Schapiro, photographer Sandy Skoglund, the Art Guys, and graphic designer Milton Glaser. Thesis exhibitions for MFA students are also held in this gallery. Advanced art majors compete for the chance to exhibit their own work at artWorks Gallery, our undergraduate-run gallery, and photography exhibitions appear regularly at the New Image Gallery, located near artWorks Gallery in the 131 Grace St. building.

Guest artists and scholars come to campus every semester under in wide range of programs. Recent visitors include performance artists the Art Guys, video artist Bill Viola, and art critics Arthur Danto and Lucy Lippard. For research, Carrier Library has more than 25,000 art history books and periodicals, extensive electronic access to journals, and superb interlibrary loan facilities. Frequent trips to Richmond, New York, and Washington DC give students a chance to see some of the latest national exhibitions, and to work directly with the outstanding holdings of area museums. Through our internship program, you can work in museums such as the National Gallery of Art, or historic homes (including Monticello and Montpelier). J.M.U’s new Arts Center, planned for construction within the next five years, will further enhance student access to the arts.

The Museum Studies concentration enriches the art history curriculum by offering course work that examines the critical role that museums have played in constructing the discipline and pedagogy of art history.  History and theory-oriented classes will introduce students to the role and function of museums in society and the ways in which museums both reflect and perpetuate the values of the cultures that create them.  Experiential pracitca or internship courses will expose students to the wide range of work conducted in museums, including curatorial, collections management, conservation, education, design and intallation, media and public relatiions, publication, development, and administration.

The Museum Studies concentration consists of five courses (15 credit hours). Students are required to complete three core courses and two elective courses. Students may only count three credit hours toward both the art history major and the museum studies concentration.

Dr. Sarah BrooksArt History Coordinator, Associate Professor of Art History
Ph.D. Art History, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU M.A. Art History, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU B.A. Art History, Dartmouth College 540.568.6642

Dr. Aderonke Adesanya, Associate Professor of Art History
Ph.D.,M.A. University of Ibadan, Nigeria; B.A. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria 540.568.3486

Dr. David Ehrenpreis, Professor of Art History
PhD. Art History, Boston University; M.A. Art History, Boston University; B.A. Foreign Languages (French & German), Hamilton College 540.568.2527

Dr. Linda Cabe Halpern, Vice Provost for University Programs, Professor of Art History
Ph.D. and M.A., Art History, Yale University, B.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 540-568-7770

Dr. Laura Katzman, Professor of Art History
Ph.D. Art History, Yale University; M.Phil. Art History, Yale University; M.A. Art History, Yale University; B.A. Fine Arts, New York University 540.568.6372

Charles Maddox, Instructor of Art History 540.568.6123

Dr. John Ott, Professor of Art History
Ph.D., M.A. University of California Los Angeles, B.A. Stanford University 540.568.6319

Jennifer Ramirez. Instructor of Art History
Ph.D., Art History, Virginia Commonwealth University 540.5688128

Dr. Maureen Shanahan, Professor of Art History
Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; M.A., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; J.D., Loyola Law School, Los Angeles; B.A., Duke University, Durham, N.C. 540.568.6029

Jessica Stewart, Instructor of Art History 540.5688128

Dr. Kathryn Stevens, Madison Art Collection Director, Associate Professor of Art History
Ph.D., Art History, Virginia Commonwealth University, M.A., Art History, James Madison University, B.A.,James Madison University 540.568.5577