McNeely Hall's exterior

Art History: explore dimensions of art in a broad range of periods and cultures.

What exactly is art history?

Art history embodies the study of the liberal arts by considering the work of art and architecture within its broader cultural context, including religion, economic production, politics, gender and social identification.

The liberal arts and interdisciplinary nature of the major can be combined effectively with other majors such as theology, history, philosophy, or with programs emphasizing professional skills, including journalism, communication, or elementary education. Recent graduates of the Art History program have pursued careers in education, art conservation, museum education and curatorship, art gallery direction, publishing, and interior design.

What are recent graduates doing now?

One of our students went to the M.A. program in arts at Sotheby’s in London and has recently returned to the Twin Cities. She is considering opening a gallery and arts consulting business, but also is considering further technical training for the management of digital images and copyright issues. She epitomizes what we try to stress about the potential for working in the field outside of the museum or college, particularly since our program emphasizes research, analysis, and presentation skills, rather than memorization. She also demonstrates the value of being ambitious, self-directed and building a network.

Learning opportunities outside of the classroom:

Internships. Students have interned at the following places during the past few years: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Minnesota Center for Photography, 526 Gallery, St. Paul Art Cooperative and the Minneapolis Public Library. Students also have participated in the City Arts program of HECUA and obtained community-based internships.

Study abroad. Students have studied recently in France, Australia, Spain and England; some programs are semester-long, others a year. Usually they study art history, language, history and literature. We encourage art history students to study abroad because it gives them the opportunity to experience, first-hand, artistic and historical works that they could only study in the classroom at St. Thomas. Seeing is understanding.

Faculty research, presentations, publications

Faculty members are actively engaged in their own research agenda, presenting papers at national and international venues, publishing articles in peer-reviewed venues, and books with university and scholarly presses.

Faculty supervise a number of independent study projects to mentor and train undergraduates in their research and presentation skills.  Several students have received Young Scholars grants in the past few years to support their independent projects.

With the arrival of the American Museum of Asmat Art at St. Thomas and the implementation of a new exhibition program, we are looking to develop opportunities for students to work on exhibits, researching, and writing labels and essays for the exhibits. Through exhibits we plan to foster joint projects with faculty, graduate and undergraduate students.

What jobs are possible with an Art History major?

  • Antiquarian book trade
  • Art appraisal and sales
  • Artist representative
  • Estate appraisal
  • Arts administration
  • Arts education programming
  • Museum and gallery administration
  • Museum education and programming
  • Curator for corporations or galleries
  • Collection management
  • Visual resources curator
  • An art history major also prepares one to work for organizations concerned with the following issues:
  • Art, intellectual property, and copyright law
  • Arts and general interest publications
  • Arts agencies (local, state, federal)
  • Historic commissions and museums
  • Historic preservation


  • With additional education or training
  • Art librarian
  • Museum curator
  • College teaching
  • Preservation and conservation
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