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Courtney Jackson - Art History

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Courtney Jackson - Art History

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Katharine Groening - Art History

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Liz McMahon - Art History

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Harmony Nguyen - Art History

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Liz McMahon - Art History

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Courtney Jackson - Art History

Art History


KCAD offers two programs for majors in art history, a traditional academic-based curriculum and a studio-based program, which allows students to build upon design and fine art experiences as an enhancement to their scholarly expertise in art history. This approach to the study of art history and criticism is unique among institutions of higher learning in the United States. The advantages to art historians of having a studio background are significant especially in the fields of criticism and museum curatorship. Foundation year courses help students in acquiring visual sensitivity, improved verbal skills and an understanding of art styles and methods.

The art history major is thus ready upon graduation to continue his or her education in art history or related fields, or to enter into employment in museum, publication, or similar work. An important component of the art history program is the opportunity provided for travel and curatorial internships through museums and galleries, locally and nationally.


The Art History program at KCAD offers a critical academic investigation into both the history of art and the history of design, with an added option of focused studio experiences. You will develop a deep understanding of visual creativity and examine the historical, political, social, and personal forces that influence artists and designers.

A foundational survey sequence introduces you to a chronology of periods, artists, styles, patronage, and aesthetic themes while you develop the basic skills of critical analysis. Then, mid-level courses will continue to deepen your knowledge, adding a global perspective and more theoretical context to your study of art history. Finally, advanced seminars provide opportunities to study more focused art historical topics within smaller classes that stimulate lively discussion, intensive research, and critical writing.

You ll also round your education out with a wide range of general education courses that will stimulate your curiosity, broaden your perspective, and inspire new creative expressions. KCAD s flexible General Education Pathways model empowers you to direct your learning by exploring subjects you find most engaging and relevant.

As an Art History major, you will be able to analyze key monuments, principle artists/designers, and cultural/aesthetic concepts, using a variety of art historical methods. You will learn to think and write critically, and place art/design objects in a cross-cultural, global framework. In addition, you will be able to read, evaluate, and apply scholarly research from a variety of disciplines and critical approaches. Thus, you will emerge from the program prepared for professional art history careers and/or graduate studies.

KCAD s Art History program offers a chronological study of fine art periods and related cultural themes, while also surveying the broader perspective of global design. Specialized classes explore the art of particular regions as well as the history of design disciplines such as graphic, interior, fashion, illustration, and industrial design.

Separate studio and academic tracks within the Art History major provide breadth and flexibility, allowing you to focus on your individual interests. The studio track is for those who want the added hands-on experience of studio foundation courses plus a studio minor. The academic track is for those who prefer to deepen their understanding of the cultural context of art/design through extensive liberal arts/sciences courses. Whichever track you choose, the KCAD Art History faculty tailor class topics and teaching styles to student needs, and their knowledge reflects current art historical concepts and practices.

Both the studio and academic tracks in the Art History program allow for students to incorporate a minor into their studies. The Art History program offers a minor in Museum Studies, which expands students art and design studies in exciting new directions. Students will learn about the history and practices involved in museum and gallery work, and will have the opportunity to undertake internships within a variety of settings in museum fields as diverse as curation, education, administration, and marketing. Art History majors may also pursue a specific interest in fine art or design through a minor in nearly any KCAD undergraduate degree program.

Art historians concern themselves not only with art production and art objects, but also with related cultural and aesthetic issues. As a result, there are many professional opportunities for KCAD Art History graduates. 

Possible careers include: 

  • Art Historian
  • Visual Resource Curator
  • Museum Curator
  • Archivist
  • Museum Educator
  • Estate and Art Appraiser
  • Gallery Representative
  • Researcher/Editor
  • Manager of Corporate Art Collection
  • Historic Preservation
  • Art Conservation
  • Museum Studies
  • Art Law
  • Exhibition Assistant
  • Art Handler
  • Art Educator
  • Art Writer/Critic

Explore a wealth of art history resources in the KCAD Library, which provides access to millions of books through the MeLCat shared library catalog as well as access to specialized research databases and subscriptions to scholarly journals. If you re looking for a more hands-on experience with the past, KCAD's Study Away programs offer opportunities to learn in some of the world s most culturally rich countries.

Right here in Grand Rapids, you ll enjoy a free membership to the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), which boasts a permanent collection including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Andy Warhol, Mary Cassatt, William Blake, and Albrecht Durer, among many others; and a free membership to KCAD's Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA), an innovative cultural institution hosting exhibitions of such contemporary artists and designers as Nick Cave, Kehinde Wiley, Kara Walker, Nari Ward, Carrie Mae Weems, and Judi Werthein.



View the 2021-2022 KCAD College Catalog for a list of current courses. 

Karen Carter Ph.D.

Anne Norcross M.A.

Professor, Program Chair, Visual Resource Collection Coordinator


Stefanie Snider Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Art reveals insights into the culture of a nation or group, the attitudes of a time period, even the nature of a struggle or a conflict. Thus, as an art historian you ll concern yourself not just with art production and art objects, but also with cultural and aesthetic issues, which opens a wide variety of career opportunities.

You ll be ready upon graduation to continue your education in art history or related fields, or to enter into employment in museum, publication, or similar work. The increasingly digital nature of the modern world is opening many more national and international career options for Art History majors.



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