Art History Program
About Art History
The School of Visual Studies at University of Missouri offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Art History and Archaeology in conjunction with the Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies. The Art History faculty offers particular strengths in medieval, early modern, and modern European and American art, which are addressed through the lenses of material culture, gender studies, and the social history of art. Current faculty research interests range from medieval illuminated manuscripts to 20th-century art to eighteenth-century decorative arts to twentieth-century United States and Germany. The art and material culture of German-speaking Europe constitutes a particular area of scholarly emphasis. Local art-historical research is supported through outstanding resources on campus and world-class collections of art in St. Louis and Kansas City. Resources available include the Museum of Art and Archaeology and the art collection of the State Historical Society of Missouri, as well as the extensive collections of Ellis Library. Many of our students have benefitted from internships or graduate research assistantships in the Museum as well as organized internships at the St. Louis Art Museum and other institutions.
Undergraduate majors can explore the art-historical tradition through a variety of courses, while our graduate students work closely with their faculty advisors on individualized programs of study. Masters and doctoral students can further broaden their studies by pursuing interdisciplinary minors in Ancient Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, or Women's and Gender Studies. In recent years our students have conducted research in Europe, Asia, and across North America with the support of fellowships from the Fulbright Program, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Kress Foundation, as well as other national awards. Our programs prepare students for a variety of employment and study opportunities in arts-related fields. Recent graduates have found work in major museums, art galleries, businesses, government agencies, research institutions, colleges, and universities throughout the country.
Many art history majors are active in the Art History and Archaeology Undergraduate Association and the MU Museum Advisory Council of Students. The Art History and Archaeology Graduate Student Association sponsors a biennial conference that highlights current graduate research from across the country. Featured presentations and public symposia with distinguished guest scholars are regularly sponsored through the department's Blake-More Godwin Lecture Series and other campus entities, as well as the lecture series sponsored through the Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies and the Archaeological Institute of America.
The History of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Missouri
Classical archaeology has been taught at the University of Missouri since 1891, when Walter Miller, who had begun the first American excavation in Greece in 1886, joined the faculty. In the following year John Pickard, who trained in classical art in Leipzig, Berlin, and Munich, and was a member both of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the American Academy in Rome, was hired. In 1914, Pickard became the first chairman of the Department of Art History and Archaeology, while Professor Miller became the first Dean of the Graduate School. In that same year the graduate program in Classics and Classical Archaeology included a Ph.D. program. Pickard was also the second president of the College Art Association, and during his five-year term The Art Bulletin was founded and edited at the University of Missouri.
Following Pickard's retirement in 1935, the program was split between the Departments of Art and of Classics, but it was re-established as an independent unit by Saul Weinberg and Homer Thomas in 1960. Weinberg, an architect trained in classical art at Johns Hopkins University and at the American School of Classical Studies, had come to Missouri in 1948, while Thomas, whose training included the study of Byzantine art at the University of Edinburgh, joined the faculty in 1950. Weinberg founded the Museum of Art and Archaeology in 1957 and. Thomas directed his efforts to building the library, which now houses one of the best archaeological and art historical collections in the nation. In 2017 Art History was incorporated into the newly-formed School of Visual Studies, while the track in Classical Archaeology was moved to the new Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies. The two continue to offer joint degrees in art history and archaeology.