Art history faculty and graduate students believe strongly in the crucial importance of art to human history and seek to understand the cultural, economic, political, philosophical, and religious values that art constitutes and expresses. Our research positions art at the center of religious conflict; as a tool of colonialism, empire, and power; as the subject of global capitalism and trade; as aligned with technology and science; as an identificatory practice; and as a means of producing knowledge and wonder.

The research in which we engage takes diverse forms including the conscientious study of archival materials, the thoughtful examination of works of art, and rigorous inquiry into theoretical, philosophical, theological, and scientific ideas. It ranges widely from archaeological efforts to discover ancient artifacts to interviews with living artists, and it requires travel to sites all over the world.

These efforts result in an array of published works including books, articles, art criticism, book reviews, and encyclopedia entries. In addition, our research comprises the curation and organization of exhibitions, the production of exhibition catalogues, as well as the preparation of lectures and conference presentations. Our efforts also take the form of colloquia, research collaboratives, reading and writing groups, and the organization of scholarly lectures and events.

Because the history of art touches virtually every form of human endeavor, we take advantage of our position within a vibrant urban center and a large university dense with intellectual expertise by engaging scholars across the University in fields such as:

  • studio art
  • architecture
  • history
  • classics
  • geography
  • the history of science
  • social science
  • anthropology
  • theatre
  • music
  • cultural studies
  • gender, women, and sexuality studies
  • American studies
  • foreign languages and literatures
  • area studies
  • museology

In addition, our rich intellectual community includes museum professionals within the University and across the Twin Cities.

We organize an annual lecture series, including the Donald R. Torbert Lecture in Architectural History, which brings dynamic speakers doing cutting edge research to campus. In addition, we take advantage of the Visiting Artists and Critics Program in the art department, and the extensive educational programming at museums such as the Weisman, the Walker Art Center, and Minneapolis Institute of Art.