Art History and Museum Studies

Art History and Museum Studies offers students practical, critical, and historical studies in a wide range of media and formats, including architecture, sculpture, painting, performance, decorative arts, printmaking, film, and photography.

Art History/Applied Art
Art History and Museum Studies

The history of these arts is presented as a visual record of the evolution of human societies, which can give students a valuable introduction to many world civilizations and offers critical insights into contemporary life and divergent cultural discourses.

The major offers a wide variety of courses in world art with broad surveys as well as advanced studies of specific cultures and periods, media, and topics. Students also take an applied art course as part of their major. Research assignments in classes often take students to area art institutions like the Detroit Institute of Arts, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit (Mocad), the Cranbrook Art Museum, and the Toledo Museum of Art. Majors are encouraged to complete internships in these museums as well as other local art galleries or historical institutions. The Capstone of the major is a practice-based learning experience in creating an art exhibition on campus.

Students in the Art History and Museum Studies program acquire valuable and broadly applicable skills in multidisciplinary research, analysis, writing, and hands-on experience in exhibition design and installation. They are prepared for graduate study in both the humanities and the sciences (as a second major) or work in museums, art galleries, private collections, libraries, as well as in education. Students are also equipped with skills to work in commercial fields related to media or community outreach.

What Will I Learn?

  • Visual Literacy: identifying and understanding works of art and stylistic trends in major genres, periods, and cultural traditions of visual expression.

  • Art in Context: appreciating the social, historical, and cultural contexts for both visual expression and responses to art, and facility in articulating these contexts orally and in writing.

  • Critical and Creative Thinking: describing, researching, analyzing, and interpreting works ofart, including the ability to understand and apply different art historical methods.

Art History majors will also attain the following skills through integrative learning and real-world application:

  1. ability to put academic learning into practice, through internships, research experience outside the classroom, field trips, and museum visits.
  2. ability to show understanding of how contemporary urban settings foster art experiences locally and internationally.
  3. ability to connect visual art and the art historical scholarship to the theory and practice of fields such as science, architecture and urban planning, design, literature, and philosability to plan and mount art exhibitions through comprehension of the workings of for- profit and non-profit collections and institutions of art, including proficiency in the research and writing of didactic and promotional materials.
  4. ability to perform critical thinking and detailed research with the goal of producing oral and written synthetic analyses of a variety of materials, including visual art, primary historical sources, academic scholarship, and promotional materials, which can be translated to different fields and occupations.


Visit the University Catalog:

Learn about degree requirements and coursework for the Art History and Museum Studies major and minor.

Learn about degree requirements and coursework for the Applied Art minor.

Learn which Dearborn Discovery Core requirements are fulfilled by taking Art History courses.

Making the Most of Your Major

There are opportunities to develop skills and connect with others interested in philosophy beyond the classroom. Check out the Art History and Museum Studies Major Map to get a more detailed, year-by-year view of how you can learn, engage, network and transform your community and prepare for life after graduation.

Get Involved

Join the Art History Association to organize activities like field trips, film screenings, and campus fundraisers. Be an officer in Art Club. Become a SI (Supplementary Instructor) in Art History to tutor and mentor other students. Explore all UM-Dearborn student organizations on VictorsLink.

Get Real World Experience

Internship opportunities are available for Art History and Museum Studies students.  Past placements include the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Toledo Museum of Art, Cranbrook Museum of Art, the Henry Ford Museum and Estate, and at other major arts institutions and galleries. This program offers professional experience in the field of Art History and Museum Studies.

Every Art History and Museum Studies major is required to complete seminars: Art History 303 (Exploring Art in the Community), and the Capstone Art History 402 (Museums and Art in the Community).

Conduct research through an Independent Study. Opportunities for students to present the results of their research are available each year at the Meeting of Minds conference and at the conference of the Michigan Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Plan for Life After Graduation

Art History and Museum Studies prepares students with the skills necessary in the modern workplace. Work a Humanities/History internship into your schedule to gain professional experience. Career Services offers assistance with job searching, resumes, interviews or graduate school applications.

General Program Information

Honors Designation in Art History and Museum Studies

The Art History and Museum Studies program seeks to recognize exceptional students who are exemplary in coursework and productive in research.

The transcripts of students who receive this designation will indicate “Art History and Museum Studies Honors.” Students are expected to apply for candidate status for the Honors Award during or before the first term of their senior year at UM-Dearborn.

Art History and Museum Studies Faculty/Applied Art Faculty

Madeleine Barkey

LEO Lecturer II in Applied Art

Susan Erickson

Professor of Art History

Sarah Nesbitt

LEO Lecturer IV in Applied Art

Diana Y. Ng

Professor of Art History

Nadja Rottner

Associate Professor of Art History

Stanley Weed

LEO Lecturer II in Art History

I don't see [Art History] as limiting...there's so much you can do with it!

CASL Digital Image Collection

The College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters digital image collection contains over 31,000 images for teaching and research.  The CASL site is part of the MLibrary Image Collection.  The collection is part of the MLibrary Image Collections, Digital Image Collections.

Help instructions specific to the CASL collection can be accessed here.