The Department of Art History at Penn State offers at the undergraduate level the B.A. degree in art history and two minors: the minor in art history and the interdisciplinary minor in architectural history. The Department offers graduate programs of study leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in art history. The department also offers lecture/discussion courses and undergraduate and graduate seminars on a broad range of topics, from ancient to contemporary art and architecture in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Oceania, and Asia. Courses are also offered in museum studies, historiography, iconology, criticism, connoisseurship, and methods of research. Courses are taught by twelve regular faculty members, two affiliate faculty members (who are curators in the Palmer Museum of Art) and two visiting faculty members.
Penn State is a Big Ten, land-grant university whose University Park campus is situated in a congenial college town, aptly named "State College," surrounded by the ridges of the Alleghenies of central Pennsylvania. The campus is a half-day's drive to the museums, galleries, and libraries of Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Buffalo, Toronto, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.
In the summer of 2008, the Department of Art History moved from the Arts Building (its home for more than forty years) to much expanded facilities in the newly restored and remodeled Borland Building. Borland was originally built in 1931–32 for Dairy Husbandry and housed Penn State’s Creamery (with its famous ice cream), which moved into a new Food Science Building in 2006. Borland was originally designed by Charles Z. Klauder (1872–1938), a noted collegiate architect from Philadelphia. The building’s neoclassical porticoes on its two main façades are animated by elegant Adamesque bowed projections and relief carvings emphasizing the building’s bovine past. The Department of Art History occupies most of the top floor of the building and now boasts a new Graduate Student Commons, with spacious facilities for both communal activities and quiet individual study. State-of-the-art classrooms, an art history seminar room, and an art history reading room (the Lord/Hyslop Library) also enhance the new Borland. The Department of Art History Visual Resources Centre is staffed by two full-time professionals who keep abreast of the latest advancements in digital image production, storage, databases, and use.
Penn State’s University Libraries have major and extensive holdings in the history of art in the Arts and Humanities Library, the Architecture Library, and the Rare Books and Manuscripts unit of the Special Collections Library.
Penn State’s Palmer Museum of Art was expanded in the 1990s with a major addition designed by the noted Post-Modern architect Charles W. Moore with Arbonies King Vlock. The museum has a growing permanent collection in Western, Asian, and contemporary art, with particularly strong holdings in American art. It also features a regular program of changing exhibitions. The museum’s director and curators all hold affiliate faculty status in the Department of Art History. Every spring, the staff of the Palmer teach a museum studies course in our department. Moreover, every semester, one of the curators teaches an art history course in the department.
In 2011 the Harold E. Dickson Memorial Lecture Series in Art History was established. This endowed lecture series is named after Dr. Harold E. Dickson (1900-87), one of the founding professors of art history at Penn State. This annual lecture series brings leading scholars to the University to share their latest research and meet with students. Often the topics of the lectures will relate to courses that are currently being taught.
Eleven volumes of the Papers in Art History from The Pennsylvania State University have been published by the Department of Art History, based upon former lecture series (the volumes are distributed by the Penn State University Press). The department’s George Dewey and Mary J. Krumrine Endowment has helped support the publication of the Papers and is currently supporting major publication projects of the art history faculty and graduate students.
Spring 2010 saw the beginning of the weekly Department of Art History Tea, held every Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the Graduate Student Commons. This gathering of art history faculty, staff, graduate students and undergraduate majors/minors fosters casual conversations and/or profound discussions in an informal atmosphere of steeped beverages and finger foods.
Our department is regularly invited to select graduate students to participate in major graduate student symposia, including the Middle Atlantic Symposium in the History of Art at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Philadelphia Symposium on the History of Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Penn State art history graduate students often present papers at scholarly conferences/symposia across the United States and abroad.
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Copyright 2005, Department of Art History, College of Arts and Architecture, Penn State University
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