Art History & Museum Studies

The history of art is the history of the world in visual terms. These terms have been expanded dramatically in the 20th century by developments in photography, graphic design, film, performance art, video and computer art. Each of these modes of production has had a profound impact on more conventional art forms and, simultaneously, has fostered an ever-changing body of theory.

The art history and museum studies course offerings are designed to enable students to explore these new developments and better understand their relationship with art of the past. Toward that end, works of art and pertinent theories are discussed in a broad context, to include social, political and economic motivations for an artist’s choice of medium, as well as the formal, stylistic and aesthetic elements of his or her work. Museum and gallery offerings in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New York City are utilized to amplify points made in classes. Our own collection of photographs, films and videos also provides students with a unique source of reference material.

Students concentrating in art history and museum studies are strongly encouraged to take more than one studio course. Two years of one language are required. For those who intend to go to graduate school, a second language is recommended. Students work closely with their advisor in developing individualized programs.

At UMBC, I was able to grow intellectually and artistically and to find my true passion and drive both as an artist and a future art scholar. UMBC offered me both theoretical and practical grounds for exploring the cutting edge topics of concern in film, photography, media, art theory and history. I will always remember UMBC as an institution that challenged and nurtured me.

Hadi Gharabaghi
M.A. in Cinema Studies, NYU, Tisch School of the Arts
B.A., Visual Arts, UMBC

What can I do with a Concentration in Art History & Museum Studies?

Students who opted for the art history and theory concentration in the Department of Visual Arts at UMBC have pursued further studies in graduate programs, have secured positions in museums and art galleries, have found employment in the editorial departments of art publications, or have joined the public school system as art teachers.

In 2007, an art history major, Hadi Gharabaghi, was one of 34 students in the nation to be awarded the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke academic scholarship that provides a maximum of $50,000 per year for up to six years of graduate or professional study in any field. Art history students have won scholarships or teaching assistantships for graduate work in Art History (Danielle Lenhard – SUNY Stony Brook, Kate Schaffer – Art Institute of Chicago; Najah Duvall – University of Cincinnati; Laura Blackwell – University of Maryland College Park{UMCP}), Historic Preservation (Najah Gabriel – UMCP), Museum Studies (Laura Pasquini – Corcoran School of Art & Design), Film and Media Studies (Hadi Gharabaghi – New York University {NYU}), Modern Languages and Linguistics (Pilar Rau – UMBC), Anthropology and Media Studies (Pilar Rau – NYU), Sociology (Elizabeth Donovan – New School of Social Research) and Law (Laura Hammel).

The art history and theory curriculum, which includes the completion of an internship at an art gallery or museum in the Baltimore-Washington region, prepares students to compete for job opportunities in the museum world. Our students have secured positions in the Corcoran Museum (Laura Pasquini – Department of Education and Outreach) the National Gallery of Art (Rachel Valentino – Buying Office of the National Gallery of Art shops); and the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery at UMBC (Emily Hauver – Curatorial Assistant).

Art History & Museum Studies Courses

Visual Arts, Art History & Museum Studies, B.A.

Art History Faculty

Mark Alice Durant  Professor
Preminda Jacob   Associate Professor
James Smalls   Professor & Chair