Art History


Develop a deep understanding of images and objects. Use strategies from history, psychology, and cultural studies to engage with art created across cultures and through time.

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Why Study Art History?

Studying art history enhances your perception and focus. As you explore art from prehistory through the present day, you’ll ask questions about the objects and images that surround us. You’ll build your analytical skills through observation, discussion, reading, and research.

Why Study Art History at Luther?

Art history concerns the analysis and contextualization of images and objects. It uses strategies from diverse fields such as history, psychology, and cultural studies. Although related, art history is distinct from studio art. In studio classes, students engage in the making of art. In Luther’s art history courses, you’ll engage in the study of art made by others.

At Luther, we approach learning through the lens of the liberal arts. This allows you to easily pull from many disciplines in your engagement with art. Your art history minor—especially when it’s from a liberal arts college like Luther—will prepare you to be a conscious consumer of images. This is a key skill for any career in our media-saturated world.

Our art faculty and staff have unique sets of training, research interests, and interdisciplinary skills that make our art history program a hub of creativity, exploration, and discovery. Luther professors are eager to help you develop your interests and plan your future path.

Program Highlights

Off-Campus Study

A study-away experience is highly recommended if you’re interested in graduate work in art history. Students within the minor commonly participate in our Nottingham program or Malta program, exploring the vast and rich history of these locations while immersed in the culture. These programs are perfect ways to further your art history knowledge through firsthand experience.

Object-Based Art History Education

Art history students have the opportunity to work with objects from the Luther College Fine Art Collection. This means that you’ll have access to hands-on experience in researching art objects through internships or work-study opportunities.

Museum Studies Partnership

Students often pair their art history studies with a minor in museum studies. The theoretical and technical training you receive in museum studies courses provides you with the foundation you need to work in museums and other cultural institutions.

What You’ll Learn

As an art history student, you’ll study human expression in visual form. You’ll gain the skills to understand culture more widely as you explore the different styles and functions of art throughout time.

In your Luther art history courses, you’ll learn how the study of art:

  • Provides insight into the passions and preoccupations of peoples across culture and time
  • Helps you read and interpret visual art and historical documents
  • Connects with your major program of interest (such as history, psychology, or cultural studies)

You will also learn to:

  • Recognize the significance of major intellectual and artistic landmarks in human history
  • Understand a diversity of people and societies, both historically and cross-culturally
  • Write with fluency, clarity, and coherence
  • Work productively in a collaborative environment
  • Cultivate aesthetic sensitivity and intellectual curiosity


Research Project: The Works of Herbjørn Gausta

“After putting together all of the pieces, I was able to figure out the location that was depicted in the painting and who the subject was. I ultimately found out what happened to the original painting and who currently owns it. Putting all of those pieces together was a ton of fun for me.” –Emily Linder ‘19

woman stands at a podium giving a lecture

Careers and Outcomes

Museums, galleries, and many nonprofit art organizations provide great opportunities for art-related careers. Many other kinds of organizations and companies look for people who can bring an aesthetic sensibility to their roles. These jobs range from marketing, sales, fashion, and interior design to education, collections management, and hospitality.

Career Fields

  • Conservators/art restorers/conservation scientists
  • Curators
  • Interior designers
  • Museum administrators/directors
  • Museum educators
  • Professors and teachers
  • Researchers
  • Tour guides

Art Management Concentration

A Luther art management concentration consists of a major in management and a minor in art history. You can transfer in courses from a number of study-abroad programs to complete the art history minor.

The art management concentration at Luther will help you gain critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in relation to the business of the arts. Through this concentration, you will find a career created for those who have a love of art and a love of working in a business setting.

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