Explore cultures, geographic areas and time periods as you learn about the visual arts in their historical and theoretical contexts.

The major in art history features a global perspective with offerings in both Western and non-Western art. While studying art history, students explore the meaning and functions of the visual arts as created within specific historical, social, political, philosophical and religious contexts. Students also learn to look critically at a work, considering issues such as the character and evolution of form and style, iconography, and underlying ideologies and concepts. Students become familiar with methods of art analysis and the vocabulary needed to discuss and describe works.

Pacific University art history major Lacey Bishop '24

What is the Study of Art History?

Art history is the study of visual culture in its historical and theoretical contexts. It goes beyond merely studying artistic styles and aesthetic theories to exploring a variety of cultures, geographic areas, and time periods, in both western and non-western art, as well as a variety of broad thematic issues to present art history within a global perspective. Through the study of art history, students can realize the impact of visual culture on the formation of human values, beliefs, creativity, and identity in diverse civilizations as well as for oneself in contemporary society.

Why Study Art History?

Students who major in art history or take art history classes develop skills that enhance their achievements as students and scholars and cultivate skills that are highly valued by employers. These skills include: critical and creative thinking; oral, written, and visual communication skills; problem-solving techniques; the ability to work effectively individually and collaboratively; ability to analyze and interpret using independent thinking; and research and synthesis.

The study of art history also inspires students to interact with their visual culture and community through the visitation of local galleries, museums, and art shows, as well as traveling abroad to pursue that interaction with other global communities. The study of art history prepares students for advanced degrees in graduate school as well as employment in galleries, museums, arts administration, art criticism, nonprofit organizations, art centers and institutions, conservation, archivist, and art education, depending on their skills and experience.

Students who are considering graduate work in art history are encouraged to study a foreign language beyond the 102 level. Students who are interested in the field of art conservation may wish to pursue a chemistry minor.

What Can You Do with an Art History Degree?

The study of art history prepares you for advanced degrees in graduate school, especially teaching art history, as well as careers in galleries, museums, arts administration, art criticism, nonprofit organizations, art centers and institutions, conservation and art education.


"Interconnected" features the work of three graduating seniors from the Art Department.

image of a pier in the fog

An exhibition of vibrant photographs to celebrate the career and retirement of beloved music professor Scott Tuomi. 

Tyler Brumfield teaches art and design at Pacific University, where he also serves as the gallery coordinator for the Kathrin Cawein Gallery of Art, the studio technician for the Brown Hall Design Studio, and the chair of the Cultural Collections Committee.