Art History

Program Requirements and Courses

Faculty Contact

Why study art history?

Since the beginning of civilization, cultures have used visual art to display ever-changing values. The study of art history allows a penetrating look at cultures and individuals who shaped them.

Art history is an all-encompassing discipline that incorporates history, philosophy, literature, music and anthropology. Rooted in research, exploration of art history deepens academic skills that are fundamental to the liberal arts. Students learn to look closely and analyze how visual information is constructed and presented. They also learn to read critically, communicate ideas verbally and in writing, and to compare and contextualize.

Why study art history at Sweet Briar?

Art History ClassSweet Briar’s art history program offers courses ranging from introductory surveys to mid-level and upper-level seminars. Students explore art from prehistoric to current periods in Europe; North, Central and South America; Asia; Africa; and the Pacific.

The program is housed in the Anne Gary Pannell Center, home to more than 4,000 pieces of art. As a teaching collection, the art is fully accessible to students and faculty. Students have the opportunity to curate their own exhibitions.

Students also benefit from close proximity to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), one of the leading artists’ communities in the world. Located near the Sweet Briar campus, students work with visual artists-in-residence and often intern at the center.

Majors regularly travel to museums and galleries in Richmond, Washington, D.C., and New York. These trips are critical to the program’s goal of developing engaged global citizens. Many majors and minors choose to study European art history in our JYF program.

What can you do with an art history major?

The skills gained from the study of art history allow majors to work in or outside the field. Graduates can be found in law, international policy, NGO administration — even medicine. Sweet Briar majors work at museums in Boston, Charlotte, Washington, D.C., New York, Richmond and Florence, Italy, in everything from curatorial to administration. Majors are also teaching and running art galleries.