History of Art and Architecture

History of Art and Architecture Concentration

The History of Art and Architecture concentration trains students in the techniques of close-looking, visual description and interpretation, and critical analysis that are necessary to locate the work of art in history.


Those students interested in the diversity of artistic production throughout history and across the world will want to choose a concentration in the History of Art and Architecture. Students can explore a particular time period, a single branch of the field, or a methodology, and have the freedom to create their own program of study.

Every course sensitizes students to the wide array of social, intellectual, material, and technical forces that both inform, and are transformed through, the making of art and the built environment, and examines the ways in which shifting contexts of reception change the meaning and function of works across time and space.

In addition to broad overviews that introduce major world traditions of art and architecture, students have the opportunity to pursue in-depth studies of particular areas or issues in limited-enrollment, writing-intensive seminars. By interrogating diverse histories of art-making practices, concentrators develop the skills to think critically about the embodied labor of artists and builders, the materials they used, the experiences of historical audiences, and their own sensory perceptions, which, in tension and dialogue, continually shape the meanings of art and architecture.


Introduction to the Concentration

The Department's introductory course (HIAA0010: Global History of Art and Architecture) provides an excellent foundation for the concentration. It is not a prerequisite for taking other lecture courses but students can count it as one of the courses required for the concentration.

Interdepartmental Studio

Since the history of art and architecture addresses issues of practice within specific historical contexts, concentrators are encouraged to take at least 1 studio art course. Courses in historyliterature or urban studies also train students in relevant methods and approaches. We also strongly encourage students to learn foreign languages pertinent to their research interests. This will be critical for students applying to graduate school in art history.

Study Abroad

Study abroad can enrich the academic work that students complete on campus, in that it offers opportunities for first-hand knowledge of works of art and monuments and provides exposure to foreign languages and cultures. Study abroad should be planned in consultation with the concentration advisor in order to make sure that foreign coursework will relate meaningfully to the concentrator's program of study.


During the declaration process, students are partnered with a concentration advisor to help them plan their course of study. Brown students must choose and declare their concentrations before pre-registration in the second semester of the Sophomore year.