Why do we study art history

The art history course is about acquiring historical and interpretative knowledge of the classical and new art genre. We will inform you here about the requirements, content, career options and show you at which universities you can study art history.

The art history course, which is often referred to as art history, is offered exclusively by universities, takes place full-time and can be studied as a bachelor's or master's degree.

In contrast to studying the Fine arts, you do not have to work with craftsmanship yourself in the art history course. Rather, you deal intensively with art, its genres, its history and its theories. The focus is on works of fine art from antiquity to the present day. Whether architecture, painting, sculpture or media art - every genre has its place in the art history study.

The aim is to impart historical knowledge of viewing art and to train analytical and interpretative skills. It doesn't matter whether you are particularly interested in classical arts or new media, photography and film are your favorite topics. The art history course is thematically broad and intends to convey a comprehensive basic knowledge of methodology, technology, materials science, museum studies and exhibition. As a typical university course, the focus is on the scientific examination of art.

An overview of the art history course

You have to meet the following requirements for studying art history:

  • General University Entrance Qualification
  • Supplementary examination after admission in Latin
    • If you haven't been taught Latin at school for long enough, you have to take an additional examination in Latin. The exam usually takes place during the course and must be passed before the final exam. The respective institute for art history at your chosen university will inform you about further regulations.
  • As a rule, there is no admission procedure.
  • Relevant bachelor's degree or equivalent degree

personal requirements

Art history and art history are often equated with good reason. Because art history is about the scientific examination of art. And that means: reading, analyzing, reflecting. In order to have fun studying art history, you should have the following qualities:

  • Likes to read a lot and to work theoretically.
  • Curiosity and openness towards dealing with diverse art forms.
  • Enjoy an intensive examination of theories.

The core of the course is the study of the visual arts with regard to their historical development under iconographic, iconological and material aspects. It is about the social significance of art in its time and the consideration of art.

The following topics are typical on an art history curriculum:

  • Introduction to art history
  • Epochs: Late Antiquity, Romanticism, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Modern and Present
  • Basics of architecture and building art
  • Basics of painting
  • Basics of sculpture and spatial art
  • Visual cultures
  • Museology / monument preservation
  • Iconography and Iconology
  • Methods and Practice of Art History
  • Scientific work

You also have the opportunity to develop your knowledge in interdisciplinary electives. Seminars on gender studies, ethnology, archeology or philosophy enable you to adapt your studies individually to your interests and to supplement your art-historical know-how with related topics.

  • Standard period of study: 6 semesters
  • Degree: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
  • An internship related to art history is common.
  • Standard period of study: 4 semesters
  • Degree: Master of Arts (M.A.)

The art history course is only offered full-time.

An academic degree in art history qualifies you for all tasks related to the art and culture industry. Here are some examples of the fields of work of art historians:

  • Art trade
  • Museum affairs
  • Art education
  • Media, publishers and editorial offices
  • Urban development and tourism
  • Cultural management and administration
  • Librarianship
  • Archiving
  • Monument protection and preservation
  • research

Since graduates of art history have a high level of communication skills, there are particularly good job opportunities in public relations, organization and art mediation - wherever professionals are needed who have extensive knowledge of art and can package this in writing and orally.

As with all professions in the cultural sector, the salary depends largely on the importance and structure of the institution you work for. Public institutions, large museums and galleries with a high profile generally pay higher salaries than small, private cultural enterprises. The gross salary of an art historian should be around 2,500 euros per month after graduation. The increases to be expected over the years then depend on the employer, responsibility and other factors and cannot be predicted across the board.

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