Why Art History?

Art History at TCU


Why study art history? The visual arts are among the oldest and most important means for humans to communicate and express their experiences, beliefs, desires, and feelings. The study of the history of art allows you to enlarge your worldview by gaining an understanding of why different cultures at different times created works of art that fascinate, perplex, challenge, and delight. In order to place a work of art into its historical context, you will also learn about history, literature, philosophy, and religion.

The foundation in liberal arts and humanities that art history provides is essential to becoming a life-long learner and educated global citizen. As an art history student, you will also gain skills necessary to compete successfully in today’s changing job market. Classes promote skills in critical inquiry and the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. Research and creative projects enhance problem solving skills. Potential careers open to art history majors include teaching, research, art administration, art writing/criticism, museum/gallery professions, and communication and media fields. See what careers some of our students have entered.

Why study art history at TCU? The high quality of teaching and a wealth of resources make TCU’s art history program distinctive. B.A. and M.A. degrees offer undergraduate majors, minors, and graduate students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the history of art, its objects, its methods, its meanings, and its contexts.

The art history faculty represent some of the most renowned art history degree programs in the nation. The faculty’s teaching has been honored by both students and peers, and all the faculty are active in their fields of expertise, writing articles and books, participating in museum exhibitions, lecturing nationally and internationally, and working with museums and galleries on a wide variety of projects. Small class sizes promote close student-faculty interaction. Students also assist professors with research, do independent studies, and hold internships at area museums.

TCU is located in a residential area near downtown Fort Worth and its Cultural District. The Fort Worth-Dallas area–known as the Metroplex–is a lively, energetic, and thriving community in which the arts play a vital role. An integral component of the TCU’s art history program, which sets it apart from many others, is “the museum experience“: the opportunity to study in art museums. Centering on the art object, the art history program allows students to expand their knowledge of the historical, stylistic, and theoretical dimensions of the visual arts, while having the invaluable experience of engaging directly with art objects. Qualified undergraduates may serve as museum interns and docents, while graduate students serve a semester-long internship as part of their degree requirements.

The art history program is closely linked to the Amon Carter Museum, Kimbell Art Museum, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and Sid Richardson Museum. It also utilizes other significant art resources found in the Metroplex, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, the Meadows Museum, the African-American Museum, the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Trammel and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art. These museums exhibit a great variety of outstanding works of art and continually offer exciting and provocative symposia and lecture programs. The art history faculty regularly meet with classes at the museums to examine and discuss specific works of art; often a course will be held at an art museum, rather than on campus, for the entire semester.

Related to the recent commencement of TCU’s graduate program in art history, the Carter, Kimbell, and Modern art museums formed a consortium with TCU to put their library holdings on the Internet. All students now have access to a listing of approximately 90,000 art books and exhibition catalogues.

The art history program regularly invites internationally recognized scholars and leaders of art institutions to present their work to students and faculty. Recent speakers have included: Volker Depkat (University of Regensberg); Flavin Judd (Judd Foundation); John Varriano (Mount Holyoke College); Ed Uhlir (Millennium Park, Chicago); Meredith Martin (Wellesley College); Beatriz González-Stephan (Rice University); Daniel Sherman (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); Catherine Craft (Independent Scholar); Judith Mann (St. Louis Art Museum); Donna Sadler (Agnes Scott College); and Amelia Jones (University of Manchester).

Because the art history program is part of a department that includes practicing artists and designers, students have the opportunity to work side by side with students majoring in studio art, art education, and graphic design. Graduate students in art history have worked with graduate students in studio art by writing critical commentaries that were distributed to viewers to the department’s exhibition space. Art history students also have the opportunity to know each other better through the Art History Club, which has sponsored a behind-the-scenes look at the Kimbell Art Museum, guest speakers, and tours of special exhibitions. Qualified students may be elected to membership in Kappa Pi Honorary Art Fraternity.

As an art history student at TCU, you will find a faculty committed to teaching and learning, as well as wonderful resources that will enhance and stimulate your study of art.

Centering on the art object, the art history program allows students to expand their knowledge of the historical, stylistic, and theoretical dimensions of the visual arts, while having the invaluable experience of engaging directly with art objects.

To learn more about the art history program at TCU, contact the division coordinator, Lori Diel l.diel@tcu.edu.

“The graduate program at TCU provided a perfect mix of academic training and museum-based experiences. Thanks to close ties with local art museums, I was able to take classes in the museums, learn about different job opportunities across the field, and was able to intern at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The practical experience gained from learning in museums paired with the critical thinking and writing skills gained in the classroom were invaluable assets as I transitioned into my current job.”

– Alejo Benedetti, MA 2015, Curatorial Assistant, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art