An Eye to Observation

Develop a critical awareness of the role cultural production plays in the creation and contestation of structures of power and identity by majoring or minoring in Art History. Students choose from a variety of courses that focus  on art and architecture in the Americas, Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the Islamic world from the pre-modern era to the present. Advanced courses focus more intensively on specific disciplinary and interdisciplinary issues: artistic practice and patronage, the history of an important movement, gender in art, texts and images, historiography and theory, and exhibit planning and design. You will gain a deep understanding of the role that art has played in the recording, shaping, and re-imagining of human history. Students learn to engage critically with images as well as the built environment, developing skills of visual literacy that are increasingly valuable in a wide variety of disciplines. In our small and supportive classes, students strengthen their abilities to communicate verbally and in writing, preparing them for careers in a wide range of fields including arts curation, sales, and collecting, as well as design, legal studies, and education. Many continue to post-graduate work in Museum Studies, Art History, and Arts Conservation, among others. 



Experiential EducationArt Beyond the Classroom

Explore the Colleges' extensive art collections and experience awe-inspiring art creations by students, faculty, and guest artists at The Davis Gallery inside Houghton House. Host to multiple art exhibitions each year, The Davis Gallery functions as a classroom for many art history courses. Students are able to engage directly with works of art, learn about the mechanics of exhibition planning and art installation, hear from artists about their practice, and curate their own shows. HWS is also home to the Solarium and Provenzano Student Art Galleries, spaces that offer additional opportunities for hands-on experience and exposure to art from far across the country and in many mediums including painting, print, sculpture, film, photography, and installation art, among others. Art History students often travel beyond Geneva to art museums and galleries in Rochester, Buffalo, Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. For students interested in pursuing careers in museums or art galleries, the Critical Museum Studies minor is an ideal complement to our Art History major.

At Hobart and William Smith, learning goes beyond textbooks and classrooms. You’ll gain high-impact practical experience that deepens learning and opens doors.

Graduate with Leadership Distinction

Amplify your Art History degree with the skills, knowledge and ethical foundation needed to be a leader in the 21st century. In partnership with the Centennial Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, our department offers the opportunity to engage in leadership development that culminates in a degree with leadership distinction and provides a competitive edge when applying to internships, jobs and graduate or professional school.

To graduate with leadership distinction, you will complete a series of foundational, action-oriented and reflective milestones within the Art History and Leadership curriculum.  We encourage you to begin your leadership journey as early as your second semester on campus.


No Borders:Global Education

Use Italy as your classroom and enroll in the Rome faculty led program offered every spring. Deepen your understanding of the history of art and architecture by choosing from a variety of unique courses, from the Ancient to the Baroque period, including art conservation. Become proficient in Italian. Investigate the rich artistic treasures of Italy through day trips and week-long excursions to cities such as Venice and Florence. 

Wherever you go, our top-ranked global education program will allow you to apply classroom knowledge, develop cultural understanding and build global connections that expand your personal capacity and sense of purpose.


Discover the history, techniques and responses to art.

ARTH 201 – black Arts in america  

Discover some of the contributions Black artists have made to American art by studying significant movements like the evolution of the Black aesthetic and the emergences of civil rights and Black pride.

ARTH 252 – japanese art and culture

Take an interdisciplinary approach to the arts and culture of Japan from the Neolithic period through the twentieth century.

ARTH 248 – love and death in ancient egypt 

Explore Egyptian paintings and reliefs from temples and tombs to reveal the strong sensual qualities encoded in the symbolism and iconography of funerary art.

ARTH 249 – Islamic Art & Architecture

Examine Islamic art and architecture from its beginnings in classical Mediterranean media and forms to the expression of autonomous stylistic developments and the impact of colonialism and post colonialism. 

Critical Museum Studies

Investigate the histories of practices of museums from a decolonial perspective while building the skills necessary to work in the industry through the Critical Museum Studies minor. You'll get to follow tracks like history museums and art museums and galleries that will allow you to focus on the issues and practices most relevant to the type of cultural space that most interests you. Students in all tracks gain experience with installation techniques, designing, cataloging, collections management, and writing exhibit labels. You'll leave prepared to work in and think critically about a variety of fields.

FacilitiesRoom to Learn

From a historic mansion to a modern art studio at the Colleges' arts campus, Art History students at HWS can take advantage of tremendous spaces to learn, grow and follow their passions. 




Alum ImpactKevin Cervantes '21


master of arts in art and art history, tufts university 

"I am headed to Tufts University knowing that I have the continued support of countless mentors and advocates who are dedicated to my intellectual and professional development as well as my personal success."

Companies That Employ Our graduates

  • Cathedral of St. John the Divine
  • Colgate University
  • Conde Nast
  • Christie’s
  • DFS Galleria
  • Freer Gallery of Art
  • G3 Fashion
  • J. Crew
  • Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme
  • KSS Architects
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
  • Pratt Institute
  • Quandrangle Group, LLC.
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Smith College Museum of Art
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Sotheby’s
  • Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
  • Vineyard Vines

universities where our graduates are studying

  • American University
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Christie’s London
  • City University of New York
  • College of William and Mary
  • Cornell University
  • Indiana University
  • Nazareth College
  • New York University
  • Newcastle University
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • Pratt University
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Syracuse University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Washington
  • University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • Virginia Commonwealth University