The art history faculty at American University believes that training in the study of art history consists of a balance between a sound disciplinary foundation and innovative methodological approaches. Our mission at AU is to help students:
- develop the skills to analyze and comprehend the formal, expressive, and symbolic qualities of visual images
- hone conceptual skills to enable the integration of visual analysis with historical knowledge and contexts
- demonstrate familiarity with major monuments and artists of the western cultural tradition and their relationship to other world cultures
- achieve the ability to think critically and to question accepted beliefs and scholarly arguments, particularly with respect to issues of social difference
- speak and write coherently and persuasively about images and related primary and secondary analytical texts
See the Art History Program slideshow for additional information.
At the Walters Art Museum, Dr. Martina Bagnoli shows Dr. Allen's Medieval Art History class a bound manuscript.
In addition, students have the opportunity to work directly with artworks studied in their courses, since the University is in close proximity to Washington's world-renowned art collections, representing the areas of specialized study in our program (Renaissance and Baroque, Modern European, American, and Contemporary.) These include institutions such as the National Gallery of Art, Hirshhorn Museum, Phillips Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and many other significant museums and collections, including AU Museum exhibitions and the Department's own Watkins Collection.
Other distinctive features of American University's Art History program include small classes with individual attention and support by faculty mentors, a close-knit and supportive student cohort, internship opportunities (in major museums, local galleries, and government agencies), and special strengths in visual resources.