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About the Department

A Message from the Department Chair

Welcome to the Northwestern University Department of Art History. Our faculty is renowned for its interdisciplinary scholarship with particular strengths in Black Visual Culture in the United States and African Diaspora, modern and contemporary art and architecture across the globe, and early modern and 19th-century European art and architecture. Many of our graduates have gone on to hold important positions in academia, museums, galleries, and the larger professional world.

On campus, we offer an array of courses for undergraduates, from 100-level seminars for first-year students to 200-level introductory courses covering the arts of the world in all media to 300-level specialized courses, which allow students to explore the art of a historical period in greater depth. Additionally, undergraduate majors take a methodology seminar exposing them to the history of art history thereby helping them to consider the intellectual project in which they are engaged. A number of these seminars are taught off site at places such as the Art Institute of Chicago and Newberry Library, allowing students access to world renowned collections of art objects. Graduate courses reflect the areas of expertise of the faculty but are also planned with the needs of residing graduate students in mind. Given the relatively small size of our graduate program, it is not unusual that a graduate seminar is honed to match the needs of a specific student. The department also benefits enormously from gifts to help our programming. These include the Liz Warnock Gift to Art History, which supports undergraduate travel, publication ventures, and the department’s preeminent lecture series. Additionally, individual gifts support Barbara Smith Shanley Travel Fellowships given to graduate students in the second year of study for preliminary dissertation research travel abroad. Other graduate research travel support comes from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and The Graduate School.

Our location, adjacent to one of the most dynamic cities in the United States with singular collections of art and architecture, makes Northwestern an ideal place to study Art History. Resources in Chicago are vast and varied, with particular buildings or art collections often serving as the core of undergraduate and graduate research projects and internships. In Fall 2014, through Spring 2023, the Chicago Object Studies Initiative, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and operated in partnership with the University of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago. The initiative included internship and fellowship opportunities as well as a new seminar for first-year graduate students to be team-taught at the Art Institute. In conjunction with campus partners, the department also sponsors a summer seminar abroad for first-year graduate students led by our faculty. To date, the seminar has been held in places as far apart as Delhi, Istanbul, Madrid, Paris, Cape Town and Nassau, and it has been a rounding success in creating lasting bonds among graduate student cohorts and faculty alike. 

Please browse our site and check out our list of current and upcoming events. For questions about becoming a major or minor in Art History, contact our Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Jesús Escobar. Questions about the Ph.D. program can be sent to the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Krista Thompson. If you are interested in applying to the Ph.D. program, our Program Assistant is the point person for prospective graduate students during the application process.

Thank you for visiting us virtually. We look forward to seeing you in the classroom or lecture hall soon.

Christina Kiaer

Department Chair