The Art History Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst was established in 1969 within the Department of Art. In 2014, the Program became the Department of the History of Art and Architecture. It is the only program at a public institution in New England that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field. Our emphasis is on the cultures of Western Europe, Islam, the Americas, and East Asia.
The discipline of art history examines visual culture and the built environment within their social and historical contexts. Degrees in the History of Art and Architecture (BA and MA) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst provide students with solid foundations in the history of Western art and architecture from the ancient world to the present, as well as extensive grounding in non-Western artistic traditions. Students learn not only how to analyze works of art as objects or monuments in their own right, but also to understand and interpret them in relation to the historical circumstances, endeavors, and conflicts of the culture and region in which they were made.
We maintain strong ties to area museums. The University Museum of Contemporary Art in the Fine Arts Center holds the University’s art collection, composed primarily of 20th century prints, drawings, and photographs. The professionally staffed museum mounts several large-scale exhibitions each year, and our students—both undergraduate and graduate—participate in planning exhibitions and managing the collection. Other Five College institutions have notable collections of European and North American Art. The Smith College Museum of Art is one of the most significant museums of its type in the nation. Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum is especially rich in North American painting and decorative arts, and the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum houses important ancient, Islamic, the Americas, and Asian art. Our students frequently visit the museums in Williamstown, Springfield, Worcester, and Hartford. Field trips or bus trips at reduced rates are regularly organized to museums in Boston and New York.
We also have strong ties to the University’s Digital Scholarship Center (DSC). The DSC staff assist faculty and students in the use of digital image technology in the classroom and provide digital image resources for the Department and the campus community. Located in 620 W.E.B. Du Bois Library, the DSC currently provides access to approximately 1.5 million digital images through local and licensed collections, including ARTstor and LUNA Commons collections. The DSC staff conducts training sessions in the use of these and other image-related tools.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is a community of people from diverse racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds, national origins, and of different ages, religious and political beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, and physical abilities. We in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture are committed to fostering a civil environment of mutual respect. We believe that our interactions with one another are enriched by our diversity and by our acceptance of one another. And we strive to create a space in which the academic goal of free inquiry can be pursued in the confidence that open investigation will be cultivated by civility, fairness, and politeness. Just as we the faculty are devoted to promoting civility, we call upon you to accord each other the respect that everyone deserves, regardless of age, racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds, national origins, religious and political beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, and physical abilities.