Dealing directly with works of art in museums or galleries, consulting special collections related to art history in libraries, or working in the field of historic preservation can be essential parts of your undergraduate education. Majors in History of Art and Architecture should contact faculty members in particular fields or the Undergraduate Program Director for information about internships; the HFA Advising and Career Center located in E202 South College also offers listings and counseling. Our students have recently interned at the Museum of Fine Arts and Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Cloisters and Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, and Historic Deerfield, as well as museums as far afield as Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
A number of museums offer undergraduates the chance to work during the summer as research or administrative assistants, as well as museum educators. Such internships are often very competitive, particularly those at the Metropolitan and Whitney museums (New York), as well as the National Gallery (Washington, DC).
Learn more on how to get an internship.
Many majors in History of Art and Architecture study abroad, especially in their Junior year, either individually or in exchange programs sponsored by the University. The University of Massachusetts programs in London, Sussex, and Leeds (England), Paris (France), Freiburg (Germany), and Siena (Italy) offer especially rewarding opportunities for majors. There is also a University-sponsored summer program of long standing in Oxford (England). At present, the tuition and fees for a year’s study in programs abroad are equivalent to those at the University. The two-semester school year runs from October to June, and all grades are transferred directly to UMass. The International Programs Office has information on these programs, as well as a wide variety of study abroad options offered through other institutions. Students may apply a maximum of 30 credits earned toward graduation. Majors must be sure that the Undergraduate Program Director approves art history courses in advance.
Summer Museum Programs
A number of museums offer undergraduates the chance to work during the summer as research or administrative assistants, education aides, and docents. Such internships are often very competitive, particularly those at the Metropolitan and Whitney museums (New York) as well as the National Gallery (Washington, DC). Students should consult with their faculty advisor as early as possible to determine when applying for any of thse would be appropriate.
Graduate Study and Careers
Graduate schools offer further training for art historians in teaching, historic preservation, conservation, and museum careers. Information on M.A. and Ph.D. programs can be obtained from your undergraduate advisor and other faculty, who can relate first-hand experiences; recent graduates are also happy to advise. The internet is an excellent way to consult up-to-date graduate catalogues with descriptions of programs, courses, and faculty. Most Masters programs require reading knowledge of one foreign language; doctoral programs require two foreign languages.
Our majors have gone on to do graduate work at Berkeley, Columbia, Delaware, MIT, NYU, Princeton, Rutgers, Williams, Virginia, and other universities. Their areas of specialization, aside from History of Art and Architecture, have included art education, anthropology, archaeology, conservation, museum training, corporate development, publishing, management, and library science. Among our graduates are college and high school teachers, an art therapist, architectural historians specializing in historic preservation, an arts foundation consultant, numerous museum curators and staff members, private art dealers, specialists at auction houses, digital image curators, art program officers at private charitable foundations, and arts administrators at state, local, and federal agencies.
Faculty advisors are always interested in discussing career options open to our majors. Students may consider double majors (recent graduates have double-majored in the School of Management, English, Classics, and Anthropology) and other special options such as pre-med and pre-law. The College of Humanities and Fine Arts Advising and Careers Center offers additional resources for students seeking work experience related to art history.
New York City Bus Trip
The Department supports regular bus trips to New York, leaving Saturdays in the early morning and retuning in the evening, offering students opportunities to enjoy major New York art museums. The Department regards opportunities such as this as an important aspect of undergraduate training in art history.
Since Fall 2013, Art History majors and other UMass Amherst undergraduates have curated innovative exhibitions in Greenbaum Gallery, an experimental exhibition space located in Elm House, Commonwealth Honors College. They include:
Architecture Across the Globe: The Photographs of Walter Denny
On view Fall 2019 – Summer 2020
Curated by Julia Bender, Sarahanne Hurtig, and Nicolette Joma
The exhibit showcases the photographic work of Distinguished University Professor Walter Denny, specialist in Islamic Art History at UMass Amherst. After interviewing Professor Denny and carefully reviewing thousands of his photographs taken worldwide, the curators selected 18 images that convey the essence of his visual acuity.
Send the Word: Visual Correspondence of the Great War
On view Spring 2019 – Fall 2019
Curated by Allegra Pericles, Constance Roberts, Niamh Tangney
Featuring postcards from World War I, this exhibit examined how postcards, particularly suited to wartime conditions as they were quick to write and easy to send, conveyed images of war to those on the home front, commemorated wartime atrocities and celebrated war’s end. The curators drew parallels between postcards from opposing sides of the war, revealing their shared humanity.
Impressions on Paper: Art of Place
On view Spring 2018 – Fall 2018
Curated by Tiana Burnett, Kacey Green, Charles Holt, Alethea Melanson, Benjamin Quinn, Charlotte Seaman, Kara Westhoven, and Dannie Zhong
The exhibit explored how a selection of 20th century American print artists created a sense of American identity through unique evocations of places, ranging from the “urban canyons” of New York to the arid majesty of New Mexico.
Julian Chappell ‘15: Pix or it Didn’t Happen
On view: Spring 2017
Curated by Maria Bastos-Stanek with Tiana Burnett, Aamani Kottamasu, Dannie Zhong
Working primarily through the medium of photography and installation, Chappell’s work engages with art historical movements and artists through an evaluation of contemporary society and the cultural values of young people. The works are a commentary on the personal aspirations of a young artist forging his own artistic autonomy in the rapidly transforming genre of photography.
“Greetings from Massachusetts: The Art of Selling Leisure in Early 20th Century Postcards”
On view Spring 2016-Fall 2016
Curated by members of “American Art and Popular Culture, 1900-1940,” Fall 2015
Curators invited the audience to understand the postcards, which depict prominent early 20th century popular culture entertainment venues – White City Amusement Park, Revere Beach, Mountain Park, and the Mohawk Trail -- as vehicles for complex ideas and hidden meanings, images in which expectations are created and social mores are disrupted or reinforced.
“Sit In, Stand Up: Activism at UMass Amherst, 1967-1975”
On view Fall 2015-Spring 2016
Curated by members of “Museum Studies: Curatorial Practices,” spring 2015 (Rebecca Barry, Michaela Bevillard, Kim Cabrera, Katie Connell, Meme Dunham-Taylor, Charlotte Kingswood, Monika Kloppenburg, Briana Labonte, Lauren Lemire, Jacob Liverman, Sarah Oh, Katherine Olmsted, Casey Simring, and Katreen Sorokina)
The exhibit explored the University’s history and heritage of activism and protest through photographs from the University Archives, student publications, and alumni.
“Death and Beauty: The Art of New England Colonial Gravestones”
On view Spring - Summer 2015
Curated by History of Art and Architecture major Katie Connell with Laura Pinkerton.
The exhibit investigated one of the United States’ earliest figural sculpture traditions and its distinctive symbols of death and heavenly rebirth through images of New England gravestones from the University Archives.
On view Fall 2014-Spring 2015
Curated by students in the spring 2014 course, “Museum Studies: Curatorial Practices” (Alyssa Arietta, Julian Chappell, Liz Connolly, Kate Edrington, Yae Joo Kim, Monika Kloppenburg, Amanda Lawall, Rachel Mathison, Jocelyn Murphy, Desiree Obimpe, Laura Pinkerton, and Margaret Wardley)
These students researched University Archives images to produce an exhibit that remembers and celebrates campus places, events, and traditions that have faded into obscurity.
“Capturing Deerfield: Pictorialist Photographs by the Allen Sisters”
On view Spring –Fall 2014
Curated by Margaret Wardley, Felicia Bolaske, and Alyssa Arietta
Students searched the University’s Special Collections and discovered pictorialist interpretations of early 20th century rural life in western Massachusetts by Mary and Frances Allen, two groundbreaking American women artists.
“The Student Experience: 150 Years of Living and Learning at UMass Amherst”
On view Fall 2013/Spring 2014
Curated by Kate Edrington with assistance from Michael Pratt and Victoria Burns
The exhibit explored student life and activities from the University’s founding to the present through photographs from the University Archives.