Art History at JMU

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 in 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.

What can I do with an Art History degree?

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, the University of Texas at Austin, University of South Carolina, University of Virginia, University of Florida, and Yale University. 

possible career paths

  • Art Dealer
  • Arts Archivist
  • Art Appraiser
  • Art Buyer
  • Art Consultant
  • Art Curator
  • Art Director
  • Art Educator
  • Arts Administrator
  • Arts Fundraiser
  • Arts Investment Officer
  • Art Collections Manager
  • Art Conservationist
  • Corporate Art Curator
  • Creative Design Specialist
  • Cultural Affairs Director
  • Development Officer
  • Exhibition Designer

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.

By taking a range of courses in both art history and 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, 18th and 19th Century, American, and Modern to Contemporary. These courses provide an invaluable foundation in the discipline, which is then strengthened by a range of electives.

Learning Opportunities

As an art history major, you can take advantage of many opportunities, not only on campus, but also throughout the area. 

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 M.F.A. students are also held in here. Students compete for the chance to exhibit their work at ArtWorks Gallery, our undergraduate-run gallery, and photography exhibitions appear regularly at the New Image Gallery, co-located with ArtWorks Gallery at W. 131 Grace St.

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, D.C. 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. 

Museum Studies Concentration

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.

To be eligible to apply for admission, students must have a GPA of 3.3 within the minimum of nine credits in art history and General Education art history courses. The program will consider grades from any new transfer student who has earned JMU approved credit for an art history course taken at another institution provided the student submits a transcript. 

Students may apply to the concentration in the fall or spring semester, but no later than the last day of the course add registration deadline. Visit the Registrar's website for deadlines. 

Art History Faculty

Dr. Adérónké Adésànyà

Professor of Art History


Dr. Sarah Brooks

Professor of Art History


Dr. David Ehrenpreis

Art History Area Coordinator, Professor of Art History


Dr. Maria Harvey

Assistant Professor of Art History, Associate Director for the Madison Art Collection and Lisanby Museum


Dr. Beth Hinderliter

Director of Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art; Associate Professor of Art History


Dr. Laura Katzman

Professor of Art History


Dr. Kristen Keach

Instructor of Art History


Charles Maddox

Instructor of Art History


Dr. John Ott

Professor of Art History


Dr. Maureen Shanahan

Professor of Art History


Dr. Wren River Stevens

Professor of Art History, Associate Dean of CVPA


Jessica Stewart

Instructor of Art History


Leah Stoddard

Instructor of Art History

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