Art History

Art History explores the complex meanings of works of art, cultural artifacts, and visual culture. Our courses empower students to develop their own unique voices as they explain creative cultural production and analyze the contributions of artists to society.



The Art History program in the School of Art teaches students to interpret creative cultural production and prepares them for diverse fields that value visual literacy, critical thinking, and collaboration, including jobs in museums, galleries, and cultural institutions.

We give students the tools they need to analyze the perceptual systems of the past and recognize the implications of these systems in the present. By approaching the discipline as a contested field of ideas, histories, and ways of working, we encourage students to creatively envision meaningful institutional and social change through the arts.


Students have opportunities to reshape accepted histories with every research project through the in-person study of works of art, artistic materials, and creative practices. Our courses have access to world-class collections at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and its contemporary and performing arts satellite, the Momentary, as well as local resources like the Arkansas Archaeological Survey, the University of Arkansas Museum, and the Museum of Native American Art in Bentonville. Regional institutions, such as the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City, OK, the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, OK, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, MO, offer additional opportunities to expand learning through day trips.

Our classes have also visited collections in major urban centers across the United States, such as Washington, D.C., and faculty have taught abroad at UA’s Rome Center. Direct study of museum collections is enhanced through hands-on training in various techniques and practices of art production via workshops and co-taught courses with faculty across the School of Art and with curators at Crystal Bridges. Students learn to support their first-hand observations through research drawing on archival, primary, secondary, and unconventional source materials, including materials traditionally marginalized in art historical discourse.

Our students have had enriching professional experiences through internships at institutions across the country, from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA, to Art Bridges in nearby Bentonville.


The Art History Program frequently collaborates with curators, art historians, art critics, and other experts in the region and nationally through courses and events. Recent invited speakers who visited campus as part of the School of Art visiting lecture series include Wayne Franits (Syracuse University), Nancy Mithlo (UCLA), and Scott Manning Stevens (Syracuse University). Recent visitors to undergraduate courses include Abbe Schriber (Tyson Fellow, Crystal Bridges), Ariel Evans (Tyson Fellow, Crystal Bridges), Tina Rivers Ryan (Albert Knox Gallery), Lindsay Caplan (Brown University), and Ellen Yoshi Tani (Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art).

We frequently offer innovative courses taught by visiting faculty over the January intersession that relate to Crystal Bridges exhibitions. Most recently, Jenni Sorkin (UC Santa Barbara) taught “American Craft, Material Culture and the Contemporary” in January, 2021; the course responded to the exhibition “Crafting America” at Crystal Bridges and was organized in collaboration with Atlanta University Center Art History and Curatorial Studies Collective. Students from Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University joined University of Arkansas undergraduates for the intensive and immersive seminar. Rachel DeLue (Princeton University) taught “Crystals in Art and Culture” in January, 2020; the course responded to the exhibition “Crystals in Art: Ancient to Today” and incorporated visits to the University’s Geological Collection and even a working crystal mine.

We also collaborate with institutions on public events exploring contemporary issues in art history. In spring 2021, we presented Thinking, Making, Writing: Indigenous Studies and Art History in the Museum, Classroom, and Community, a symposium co-organized with Mindy Besaw (Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art) and Ashley Holland (Cherokee; Art Bridges Foundation). The event included a keynote lecture from Philip J. Deloria (Standing Rock Sioux; Harvard University) and conversations with the artist Dyani White Hawk (Sičangu Lakota), Wanda Nanibush (Anishinaabe-kwe; Art Gallery of Ontario), Georgiana Uhlyarik (Art Gallery of Ontario), Amy Lonetree (Ho-Chunk; UC Santa Cruz), and Sascha Scott (Syracuse University). The roundtable explored interdisciplinary approaches to Indigenous art today.

We hosted “American Art Journals 2020: A Roundtable Conversation” via Zoom in fall 2020. The conversation explored the content, design, and impacts of two key journals for scholars of American art, The Archives of American Art Journal and Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art. Participants included Jacqueline Francis (co-executive editor of Panorama), Jennifer Jane Marshall (founding editor of Panorama), and Tanya Sheehan (executive editor of The Archives of American Art Journal). The event was co-organized with Crystal Bridges by Professor Jennifer Greenhill and co-moderated by Chief Curator Austen Barron Bailly.

The Art History program works with students on unique projects that complement traditional coursework. In fall 2021, Oh Mee Lee (Instructor in Art History) curated an exhibition of Japanese woodblock prints from the University of Arkansas Museum collection at Fayetteville Public Library with Laurel Lamb, Curator of Education and Engagement at the Museum, and undergraduate Chloe Biermann. Titled “Navigating Censorship at the End of an Era: 1840-50s Japanese Prints from the UA Museum,” the show examined censorship in ukiyo-e prints.

The Art History program and Crystal Bridges will co-host the Association of Historians of American Art (AHAA) Biennial Symposium in October 2022.

B.A. Degree

The Bachelor of Arts in Art History prepares students to be analytical thinkers, incisive researchers, and polished writers. It educates students in a multivocal and inclusive art history and gives them the interdisciplinary training they need to thrive in industries that value critical thinking and creativity.

Our courses cover a wide range of time periods, geographic locations, and cultures. In addition to regularly scheduled course offerings, the Art History program teaches Special Topics courses and Seminars in Art History that offer focused examinations based on faculty research; recent Special Topics and Seminars in Art History have spanned diverse subjects, from medieval manuscript illumination to pictorial advertising in the United States. Independent study and the option to complete an honors thesis provide additional enrichment opportunities. Art History is also a common double major, and the Art History Program offers a minor for students majoring in other subjects.

Selected BA Courses:

  • ARHS 4423. Roman Art and Archaeology
  • ARHS 4573. Artists of New Spain
  • ARHS 4613. African Art and Society
  • ARHS 4733. Saint Peter's and the Vatican
  • ARHS 4773. History of New Media Art
  • ARHS 4793. Making the Museum: History, Theory and Practice
  • ARHS 4863. Northern Renaissance Art

Selected Special Topics and Seminars in Art History:

  • The Mechanics of Magazines
  • American Advertising Art: History, Theory, Practice
  • Afrofuturism, Africanfuturism, and Contemporary Art
  • Painted Manuscripts
  • Medieval Manuscript Illumination
  • Art and Politics

M.A. Degree

The Art History M.A. degree is an accredited two-year residency program in partnership with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and specializing in the arts of the Americas.

Educating students in a multivocal and inclusive art history, the program aims to give students the interdisciplinary training and robust work experiences that they will need to thrive with an M.A. degree in industries that value visual literacy, creativity, communication, collaboration, and research. The program prepares students for top Ph.D. programs in art history, but also facilitates other trajectories for those seeking to contribute to the arts and society with an MA degree.

Thanks to the transformational gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, all graduate students accepted into the program will receive funding support during the two years of study.

Learn more about the program and meet art history faculty during information sessions held during the fall semester.

Applications open in the fall and are submitted through Slideroom, a web-based portfolio and document submission system. 


The Society of Art Historians is a registered student organization (RSO) that offers a community for UA students interested in promoting art history outside of the classroom.

Recent activities organized by art history students include workshops on applying to graduate school, discussions about careers in the arts, tours at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, educational trips to Kansas City and Oklahoma City, and guest lectures from national and international scholars.


Recent graduates have had success in a range of fields spanning the arts and education:

Kate Hodgson (2023) is completing an MA in Art History at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Sydney Nichols (2022) is completing an MA in Art History at the University of Texas, Austin.

Jazlyn Sanderson (2020) is the Director of the Museum of Native American History (MONAH) in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Jackson Williams (2019) is a Sales Assistant at David Zwirner Gallery in New York City. He previously interned at Gagosian Gallery in New York City.

Cory Perry (2019) completed an MFA degree at Northwestern University in 2023.

Kris Massengale (2019) received a Masters of Library and Information Science degree with a specialization in Manuscript Studies and Historical Bibliography at University College London in 2022. Kris is now a User Services Technician at the University of Arkansas Libraries.

Michael Hartman (2013) is the Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth University, where he curated the exhibitions "Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water" (July 29, 2023–June 16, 2024) and "Historical Imaginary" (December 17, 2022–November 11, 2023).  Hartman holds an MA in History of Art from Williams College and is completing a PhD in Art History at the University of Delaware.

Dylan Turk (2014) is a former Special Projects Editor, Architecture and Design, at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, and co-founder of KIN, a creative advisory company based in Northwest Arkansas. His career in the arts was profiled in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2021.

Robin Wallis Atkinson (2011) is CEO of INTERFORM, which produces Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week and NWA’s biennial fashion and art festival, Assembly.

Quick Info

Degrees Offered
Bachelor of Arts

Master of Arts in Art History

Student Organizations
The Society of Art Historians

Art History Faculty

John R. Blakinger, Art History Program Director and Endowed Associate Professor of Contemporary Art

Jennifer A. Greenhill,  Inaugural Director of Graduate Studies and Museum Partnerships with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and Endowed Professor of American Art     

Lynn Jacobs,  Distinguished Professor     

Abra R. Levenson, Assistant Professor

Oh Mee Lee, Art History Instructor 

Ana Pulido Rull, Associate Professor

Alexis Salas, Endowed Professor of the Arts in the Americas

Janine A. Sytsma, Assistant Professor       

Rhodora G. Vennarucci, Assistant Professor   

Nichelle Wilson-Parish, Instructor   

Contact Us
(479) 575-5202

Fine Arts Center, School of Art
340 N. Garland
Fayetteville, AR 72701