Why Major or Minor in Art History?

In a rapidly changing, complex, and global world, it becomes more important than ever to understand other people and to engage with them directly.  For millennia, cultures have communicated visually through art.  Images and buildings cut across barriers of time, place, language and literacy, making art the mass medium throughout history. 

Whereas we have more options in media today, thinking, expressing, and communicating visually is as important as it ever was.  Art history engages students with the challenge to look at art as more than pretty pictures and to study and understand it as a way to connect directly to other people - across the globe, across time, and across language.

The study of art requires the full range of a liberal arts curriculum.  History, literature, theology, economics, philosophy, engineering, and even a little chemistry are needed to understand the work of art, its production, its ownership, its function, and its message.  One has to learn not just about the artifact, but about the society that made it.

Art history is not about memorizing facts and dates, but about asking critical questions, undertaking research, and using analytical tools to find answers.  One learns to write and to present.  This emphasis upon research and presentation have prepared our majors for a variety of career paths and to respond creatively to the complex challenges of our time and world. 

Students also have a chance to work with St. Thomas’s teaching collection of art and our digital visual resources.  This hands-on experience adds a practical dimension to our curriculum and provides additional skills and resources for the future.