Art History & Art Conservation

Art History courses offer students a unique opportunity to develop the essential skill of visual literacy -- learning to look carefully and think critically about the visual images and material objects that surround us. Encompassing global art traditions from prehistory to the present, art history courses introduce students to a range of interdisciplinary methods, topics and media. We explore how visual and material culture shapes human society across time and around the world.

Queen's Art History students can take advantage of experiental learning seminars in Venice, Italy, art and architecture courses at our 15th Centure Castle in England, and museum practicum courses at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on campus, home to The Bader Colleciton of European art as well as contemporary, indigenous, African, and Canadian collections. Through field trips, interships, and other activites in and out of the classroom, students gain first-hand experience in analyzing and interpreting works of art and architecture. These writing and presentation skills will prepare you for careers in museums and archives, heritage preservation and tourism, art business, and art law and policy.

See our Major Map to learn more

Location: 
Ontario Hall
Room number: 
211
Telephone: 
Head of Art History & Art Conservation: 
J. Schwartz
Graduate Program Chair: 
A. Morehead
Undergraduate Program Chair: 
C. Hoeniger
Art Conservation Program Director: 
R. Hill
Agnes Etherington Art Centre Director: 
J. Allen

Degree Options

Bachelor of Arts (Honours) - BAH

Major in Art History
A major is an intensive course of study in one discipline, with approximately half of your courses within the discipline with room for an optional minor in any other Arts and Science discipline.

Medial in Art History
A dual course of study in Art History and any other Arts discipline.

Minor in Art History
A minor is a less intensive course of study in the discipline that must be combined with a major in another discipline.

Specialization in Computing and the Creative Arts
Administered by the School of Computing in partnership with the Department of Art.

Internship option available

For a full list of Degree Plans, see the Academic Calendar

Graduate Degree Options

Art History - PhD
Art History - MA
Art Conservation (Research Stream) - MA
Art Conservation (Treatment Stream) - MA

Study Abroad with Art History

Students may also choose to expand their experience of works of art and architecture through study in our international programs, including the Venice Summer School, University of Vienna graduate exchange, and courses at Herstmonceux Castle in England.

Students in Art History are encouraged to take courses at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in their second or third year, given the importance of studying works of art first hand.  Courses at Herstmonceux take advantage of architecture, painting, sculpture and the decorative arts on both sides of the English Channel within easy travelling distance from the Castle.  Although the selection of ARTH courses at the BISC is limited, special consideration will be given to honours students returning to Art History at Queen’s after the enriching experience at the BISC.

Job and Career Opportunities for Art History Grads

The Art History program offers students an excellent opportunity to study the history of Western Art and Architecture from the medieval period up to the latest issues in contemporary art. Courses are structured for breadth in the introductory years, with increasing specialization in third year and beyond. Students in the fourth‐year Honours program are offered an opportunity to develop and apply their knowledge and skills through participation in intensive seminar classes in an intimate setting, which also provide sound preparation for graduate studies.

Where can an Art History grad go after graduation?

  • Advertising
  • Architectural preservation
  • Architecture
  • Archivist
  • Art auctioning
  • Art conservation
  • Art criticism
  • Art education
  • Art law
  • Art therapy
  • Arts programming (TV or radio)
  • Banking
  • Community college teacher
  • Design
  • Editor
  • Event planning
  • Fundraising
  • Gallery administration
  • Grants officer for the arts
  • Heritage policy
  • Interior/fashion designer
  • Journalist
  • Landscape architecture
  • Lawyer
  • Marketing and communications
  • Media and communications
  • Museology
  • Museum curating and administration
  • Professor
  • School teacher
  • Tourism & travel

Note that some of these careers may require additional training.

Undergraduate Course Highlights

Art history courses at Queen’s explore diverse aspects of visual and material culture, situating art in relation to key concerns such as gender, class and society; museums, collecting and cultural policy; and cross-cultural interactions in post-colonial perspective. Popular courses include the introductory “Art in the West from Antiquity to Modernity” and historical courses in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Latin America and modern and contemporary art as well as Arts of the Arctic; Culture and Conflict; Introduction to Technical Art History; and Feminism, Art, and Art History. A special program enables computer science students to focus on Computing and the Creative Arts, and some Art History students go on to our graduate program in Art Conservation, the only one of its kind in Canada.

Undergraduate Admission to Art History

Students apply to Queen’s Arts (QA) through the OUAC (Ontario Universities' Application Centre) website (ouac.on.ca). Secondary School prerequisites include six 4U and 4M courses, including a minimum of three 4U courses, one of which must be ENG4U. Applicants outside of Ontario may have additional requirements.

More info on first year admission

Alumni Profile

“My art history graduate education at Queen’s provided me with excellent training as an art historian. I had the opportunity to study and work directly with historic drawings in the Queen’s Archives, and learn how to research and catalogue them while producing a finding aid for a newly acquired collection. This kind of hands-on experience was invaluable and helped me find paid internships and jobs after receiving my Master’s degree.”
Christine O’Malley, Queen’s BA and MA

Graduate Studies in Art History

The M.A. and Ph.D. programs offer advanced training in the study of visual and material culture from the Middles Ages to the present. The Queen's Art History program is strongly committed to mentoring and to the training of graduate students in a variety of interdisciplinary approaches, methodologies, and issues, including the technical examination of art, gender studies, critical theory, cultural representation, and the relationships among art, literature, and science.

"Choosing Art History at Queen's University to pursue doctoral studies in Art History was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Attending Queen's was a positive and nurturing experience, made possible because of an advisor and faculty members who were active scholars, thoughtful pedagogues and caring mentors. It provided the best possible environment in which to foster and nurture a young scholar along the daunting steps of the Ph.D. I learned much from them on how to be a professional academic and of the expectations that awaited me upon convocation. Faculty were generous, enthusiastic and open-minded with me and my work. Today, working in School of Fine Art and Music at the University of Guelph as an associate professor, I am proud to say I am one of three Ph.Ds from the Department of Art employed in the Art History unit. Few Art History departments in this country can boast its track record!" John Potvin, PhD, Queen's University Art History 2005

The M.A. in art history is a two-year research based program. Learn more about the Master's Program in Art History.

The Ph.D. in art history is a four-year program that requires course work, the demonstration of a reading knowledge of an appropriate second language, two field essays and a thesis. Learn more about the Ph.D. Program in Art History.