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Art History

Purdue University in West Lafayette

How do we interpret the narrative imagery of an Ancient Near Eastern sculptural relief? Why did the Spanish artist Salvador Dalí paint pictures in a dreamlike Surrealistic manner? These are examples of the types of questions art historians ask and try to answer by studying the visual arts of both the distant and more recent past. They seek to understand the cultural values expressed in a work of art, and to show how the latter fits into a larger context or tradition to which individual artists belong.  The result is that a painting, statue, building, or piece of jewelry comes to life and gives us a fresh insight into mankind’s ever-changing experience and ways of seeing the world.

Art History students are taught to think critically, research, and learn theoretical aspects of this field, and express themselves effectively in written and oral form.  Several courses contribute to interdisciplinary programs in classical studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and Italian Studies. Student who study art history must minor in another field. Students with an undergraduate degree may prepare for a future career in teaching, in the museum world, in art-dealing, in art journalism, or to attend graduate school.

All liberal arts majors prepare students with the skills identified as contributing to managerial success:  communicating and listening well, possessing insights into others, creative/critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to make connections across complex ideas.

Plan of Study

Art History Webpage

Transfer to Art History

Purdue admits to individual majors. Transfer students must meet Purdue's overall transfer criteria, as well as any major-specific requirements. Before you apply, check the closed programs page to confirm this major is open to transfer students. If it is, refer to the information below for major-specific transfer criteria.

Minimum GPA: 2.5

Contact Information

Undergraduate Student Recruitment Office
(765) 494-6291

College of Liberal Arts

Careers in Art History

  •   Teacher
  •   Museum and Archive Curator
  •   Art Sales
  •   Historic Preservationist
  •   Art Insurance Adjuster
  •   Museum and Gallery Curator
  •   Journalism
  •   Teaching and Research
  •   Non-Profit Management

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