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Honoré Daumier, Art Lovers (detail), 1863-1869, Cleveland Museum of Art. (Photograph provided by the Cleveland Museum of Art, www.clevelandart.org)
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.
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Career Paths in Art History, May 1, 2018. Presentation available via UD Capture.
Each year, the Department of Art History hosts a "Career Paths in Art History" event for undergraduate students, featuring presentations from professionals in a variety of fields. "Career Paths in Art History," aims to showcase the many career options available with an Art History degree. The most recent event featured presentations by:
- Vice Provost for Libraries and Museums and May Morris University Librarian: Trevor A. Dawes - Winterthur Portfolio: Amy Earls, Managing Editor
- Museum Registrar: Amanda Shields, Brandywine River Art Museum of Art
- Administrative Positions in Museums: Tiarna Doherty
- Historic House Management: Samantha Dorsey at Gunston Hall in VA
- Real Estate for Historic Homes/Historic Preservation: Michael Emmons, Ph.D. Candidate, Preservation Studies RA, Center for Historic Architecture & Design (CHAD)
- Art Dealership: Alba Campo Rosillo on behalf of Carol Nigro
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:"Please, students, take that 'impractical' humanities coures. We will all benefit": Article by Ronald J. Daniels, president of John Hopkins University, the Washington Post, September 14, 2018
"Shocker: Humanities Grads Gainfully Employed and Happy": Article by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, February 7, 2018
"Why we still need to study the humanities in a STEM world": Article by Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post, October 18, 2017
"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
UD's Career Service Center
UD Career Advising Network (UD CAN)