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Art History, B.A.

Whitworth art history majors look closely and think deeply. Through this major, you will explore the meaning and significance of artworks within diverse historical and cultural contexts. Art communicates messages. Your work will be to investigate who is saying what to whom and why. 

At Whitworth, art history is an interdisciplinary major. In addition to taking art history courses, you will take courses in the history department in which you may pursue art-related research. This approach allows you to gain a broad understanding of history, culture and politics that encompasses the world of art and extends far beyond it.

Why major in art history at Whitworth?

  • Develop transferable skills such as writing, critical thinking and analysis that are crucial to a wide range of careers.
  • Gain experience as a research assistant for faculty, and learn to work with primary sources, archives and actual art objects.
  • Pursue your interests through a variety of elective credits and through a required independent study with an art professor.
  • Connect your faith or worldview to your learning. Natural and fundamental connections exist between art and faith. The study of art history allows you to explore how faith has been both expressed and challenged by artists and artwork throughout human history.
  • Travel the world through amazing off-campus study programs led by your professors.
  • Enhance your studies through a double major in such subjects as history, arts administration or international studies. Or pursue a minor in a related field like public history, Asian studies or medieval studies.
  • Draw inspiration from the vibrant Lied Center for the Visual Arts. This beautiful, contemporary center houses six studios and two gallery spaces.
  • Broaden your understanding of different cultures, both historical and contemporary.
  • Join a tight-knit community of students and alumni that provides networking and support as you move into a career.
  • Become who you're meant to be.

Our art history grads make a difference (and get jobs)

If you're interested in pursuing a career in the ever-dynamic art world, the art history major will prepare you for a number of roles, including curator, museum educator, collection manager, archivist, arts administrator, exhibition preparator or preservationist.

You will also be well-equipped to move toward other fields, such as teaching, editing, project management, marketing, law and even medicine.

Recent job placements include:

  • Hannah Hirano, museum services & conservation coordinator, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
  • Chloe Dye Sherpe, curatorial project manager, Microsoft Art Collection, Burlington, Wash.
  • Kristina Grossman, humanitarian officer, USAID – Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, Washington, D.C.
  • Sophia DuVal, scholarly communication librarian, Whitworth University, Spokane
  • Grace Trumbo, assistant registrar, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

Our recent art department grads further their studies in top graduate programs at institutions including:

  • Courtauld Institute of Art, London (M.A. in History of Art)
  • University of Birmingham, U.K. (M.S. in Art History & Curating)
  • Pratt Institute (M.S. in library science)
  • University of Oregon (M.S. in historic preservation)
  • Creighton University School of Law (J.D.)
  • Florida State University (M.A. in museum studies)

(Art history is a new major at Whitworth. Most of the above references are to grads who minored in art history before the major was offered.)

Opportunities outside the classroom

  • Complete an internship. Art history students are especially encouraged to participate in Whitworth's unique Smithsonian Internship Program in Washington, D.C.
  • Apply to be the assistant for Whitworth's permanent collection or Bryan Oliver Gallery, and learn how to manage a collection, organize and install exhibitions, handle artworks, and maintain records.
  • Visit rotating professional art exhibits at Whitworth's Bryan Oliver Gallery.
  • Attend special exhibits in Spokane and beyond with your classmates.  
  • Serve with your peers on Whitworth's Community Building Day by taking inventory of Whitworth's permanent collection and inspecting artworks for needed repairs.
  • Join the Art History Summer Book Club, whose members read books about art history and get together to discuss and critique them.

Pack your bags!

Whitworth faculty members lead off-campus study programs around the country and the world that provide life-changing experiences with art, including exposure to significant museum collections. Programs that visit major destinations in Europe include British Culture through the Arts, Power & Politics of Art, History & Art in Rome, and Early Christian Sites in Greece. Or experience world-class art closer to home through the Art & Architecture in Chicago program.

Ask our faculty

Ask Meredith

Professor Meredith Shimizu specializes in modern art and photography. She also teaches courses in Renaissance and Latin American art.

Ask Stacey

Lecturer Stacey Moo specializes in medieval art history and is the manager of Whitworth's permanent collection.

What related majors can I explore?