Academic Programs

Division of the Arts

Art History


The Art History Program offers the opportunity to explore visual art and culture through courses across a broad range of periods and societies, and through close student-teacher contact. The program emphasizes learning how to look at and write about works of art, particularly in introductory courses. Bard’s proximity to New York City allows for visits to museums and galleries; courses are frequently designed in conjunction with current exhibitions. In addition, the art and architecture of the Hudson Valley provide a fruitful resource for original research. The program maintains close contact with local institutions so that students can study original documents and work as volunteer interns during the summer or January intersession. Advanced students may also work with faculty at the Center for Curatorial Studies on campus and at The Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture in New York City.


Students intending to major in art history should work with their adviser to develop individual study plans that reflect their interests and meet the program’s distribution requirements, which give the student the chance to encounter a wide range of artistic practices across cultures and time. Students need a total of four art history courses to moderate, including either Perspectives in World Art I or II (Art History 101, 102). Moderated students are required to take at least one program course per semester thereafter.

Course requirements for graduation include (in addition to Art History 101 or 102): one course in studio arts, film, or photography; Art Criticism and Methodology (Art History 385), typically taken in the junior year; one non–Western civilization art history course; one course each covering the ancient to 1400 C.E. period, the 1400 to 1800 C.E. period, and the period from 1800 to the present; and at least two 300-level art history seminars (in addition to Art History 385). Note that one course may satisfy both the seminar and period requirements, but no course may satisfy more than two requirements. Before undertaking the Senior Project—a major thesis that examines an original art historical issue—the student is encouraged to demonstrate reading knowledge of a language other than English. Each May, seniors give a short presentation of their topics in an informal colloquium.

Recent Senior Projects in Art History

  • “The Light and the Glass: An Exploration of Contemporary Photographers Using Antiquarian Processes”
  • “Mártires y Comandantes: Tracing Historical Memory in the Murals of El Salvador”
  • “Modernity and Marginality: Scandinavian Landscape Painting, 1880–1895”
  • “Unrealized Visions: The Architectural Document as a Record of Rupture”