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Career Paths

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Hubert Robert, Grande Galerie of the Louvre, 1796

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​Hubert Robert, Project for the Transformation of the Grande Galerie of the

Louvre, 1796, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France (Photograph copyright

© Kathleen Cohen/WorldImages)

In recent years increased public interest in, and support for, the visual arts has led to considerable growth and expansion in the career paths available to those with expertise in the field of art history. Many of our graduates have secured positions in museums and art galleries, as well as in education. They also work as conservators, auctioneers, antiques specialists, and arts lawyers, or may hold important roles in media, advertising, publishing, or public relations. Below is information about some of the paths followed by our graduates. A complete list of career options for art historians, including the education and training needed in each case, is found in Career Alternatives for Art Historians, compiled by Charles M. Rosenberg.

Education

Art historians often become educators at high schools, universities, museums, and other cultural organizations. Advanced degrees (usually a Ph.D.) are required for positions at institutions of higher education and major museums, while a state teaching credential may be required to teach at the high school level in specific districts.

Museum Work

​The museum world is enjoying a period of unprecedented vitality and public support. Magnificent exhibitions are being mounted throughout the world, and large and small museums are playing an increasingly prominent role in the lives of communities. Art historians with advanced degrees are often at the center of this growing excitement, serving as senior administrators, curators, and educators. Professional and staff positions for students with a bachelor's degree are available in collection management, museum programming, publishing, development, publicity, visual resources management, and sales, among other areas. UD’s Art History majors interested in this field should consider completing a Minor in Museum Studies.

Historic and Cultural Heritage

​State and local arts councils have become increasingly active advocates of educational programs and enrichment activities connected with the fine arts, photography, and architecture. In addition, the conservation of architecture and of historic sites has emerged as a widespread and influential public concern in recent years. Often art historians, working either with public agencies or private businesses, have spearheaded efforts to preserve our cultural heritage and to extend the public legacy of the arts. Students with double majors in Art Conservation and Art History are particularly suited to work in this field.

Art Commerce

​Commercial galleries and auction houses have also enjoyed much attention in recent years, and art history graduates have also become actively involved in these fields. The art "business" is booming, and knowledgeable people are needed to advise individual and corporate collectors, appraise artworks for insurance and security firms, and to work as dealers and auctioneers.

Art Law

​A variety of organizations and firms are dedicated to helping artists and art institutions in legal matters, such as copyright issues, donation agreements, and claims of art that has been illegally obtained or imported into the US, among others. Art historical expertise is central for professionals working in such institutions, and also for law enforcement units investigating art thefts and fraud, as discussed in this lecture by Robert Wittman, founder of the FBI's Art Crime Team, given at the University of Delaware in April 2013.

Other Paths

​Visual literacy, effective written and oral communication skills, research competence, problem solving, multicultural understanding, and other abilities acquired by Art History graduates are transferable to a wide range of careers, and are highly demanded by employers. The articles below discuss alternative options available to students majoring in Art History and the Humanities in general:

"At a loss for what to do? Why not History of Art?": Article by Matt Lodder in The Independent, September 22, 2015

How being a humanities major could get you into medical school: Story by Julie Rovner heard on NPR, May 27, 2015

"Why 'Plan H' is the best college back-up plan": Article by Matthew Kinservik, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Delaware, in the News Journal, January 29, 2014

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  • Department of Art History
  • 318 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-8415
  • arthistory@udel.edu