Art History is the academic study of human history, culture, and society through visual arts. Art Historians research, analyze, interpret, and critique artistic representations. Many art historians follow typical career paths and are employed with museums, galleries, auction houses, and publishers. Others choose to partner their Art History degree with additional education and/or experience and are found in a vast number of diverse career fields. The links to follow offer career insight and guidance for art history majors:
Art History Career Overview – Art History Internships – Art History Associations
Museum Careers for Art History Majors
Registrars and Museum Technicians – Conservators – Archivists – Curators
Additional Art History Resources
- Art History Career Overview: This page from James Madison University’s website gives a concise, yet thorough, description of the art history major as well as providing career information and helpful links.
- Choosing an Undergraduate Program: This link from the College Board, which administers the SAT and other standardized exams, provides a solid review of the art history major and includes a checklist for choosing a college program.
- Art History Advanced Placement Program: This College Board link provides information and a course description for high school students seeking credit and/or placement for college level classes.
- Art History Programs: This University of Michigan site provides links to more than 60 art history departments in the U.S. and abroad.
- Career Information: This page describes art history career opportunities based upon degree level and experience.
- Career Opportunities: ArtHistoryJobs.com provides links to art history employment opportunities on the Internet.
- Additional Career Opportunities: SimplyHired.com is a job search engine that provides centralized listings of jobs gathered from thousands of websites. This is an excellent source for current job postings in the art history and related fields. In addition to providing employment opportunities, SimplyHired.com uses salary information gathered from millions of job listings to provide helpful stats on specific fields, including typical compensation rates for art historians.
- Katzenberg Foundation (Undergraduate)
- The Metropolitan Museum of Arts (Undergraduate and Graduate)
- National Gallery of Arts (Graduate)
- Paid Smithsonian Internships (Undergraduate and Graduate)
- Museum and Gallery Internships (Graduate)
- College Art Association (CAA): The CAA is the principal professional association for art historians in the United States.
- Association of Art Historians (AAH): The AAH is a professional art historian organization based in the United Kingdom.
The job market for art history majors pursuing traditional career paths can be highly competitive. Those with advanced degrees and solid experience have the best chance of ultimately landing their “dream job” within the field. Art museums and public art galleries provide internship and employment experience which is often a prerequisite to advanced degree programs as well as mid- and upper-level career opportunities. In addition, most museum and public gallery positions have corresponding roles in other employment sectors such as auction houses, art exhibitions, and private galleries. The following links serve as guides for museum careers and beyond:
- Museum Career Overview: This site from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics examines archivist, curator, museum technician, and conservator careers.
- Career Information: This link from the American Historical Association outlines museum career paths history students.
Registrars and Museum Technicians are entry-level positions within the museum career field. Though there are positions available for those with an associate’s degree, most employers prefer museum technicians with a bachelor’s degree in art history or a related area of study. Continued training and education is required for professional advancement.
- Museum Technician Career Overview: From the College Board Website, this link outlines the roles of exhibit designers and technicians and offers suggestions for pre-college coursework.
- Career Viewpoint: This link answers the question, “What does a museum technician do?”
- Career Perspective: This link site provides an insider’s perspective into the working world of a museum technician.
- Career Opportunities: The American Association of Museums is a comprehensive resource for career information and employment opportunities.
Art Conservators are academically trained to preserve, treat, and document works of art and are usually employed with museums and public galleries or work on a freelance basis. A master’s degree and substantial experience is typically needed for employment in the field. Proficiency in a second language is required for some positions.
- Conservator Career Overview: This link, from the College Board Website, outlines the conservator role and offers suggestions for pre-college coursework.
- Educational Resources: The Conservation Online ((COOL) Website provides a worldwide listing of academic opportunities for conservators.
- Educational Programs: This link lists training and education resources from the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute.
- Career Resources: Operated by the Foundation for the American Institute for Conservation, this site is a comprehensive resource guide for conservation professionals.
- Career Opportunities: From the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), this site provides the latest employment and occupation information for conservators at every career level.
Associations and Organizations for those interested in Conservator Careers:
- American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC): The AIC is the national membership organization for conservation professionals.
Museum archivists collect, organize, preserve and display historical materials. Archivists traditionally specialize in a specific interlude of history. A master’s degree and considerable experience is typically required for employment in this field.
- Career overview: This link from the College Board Website outlines the role of archivist and offers suggestions for pre-college coursework.
- Career Information: This Society of American Archivists link outlines the work, qualifications, and benefits of an archival career.
- Career Opportunities: This link from the Society of American Archivists provides job listings and career information.
Associations and Organizations for those interested in Archivist Careers:
- The Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA): The ACA is the certifying organization for professional archivists.
- Society of American Archivists (SAA): The SAA includes a special section for museum archivists.
Museum and art gallery curators are responsible for the vision, direction, planning, acquisition, and exhibition of collections. Curators typically specialize in a particular historical period, area, or field. Most employers require a master’s degree for curator positions and some prefer a doctorate. Interestingly, U.S. News and World Report highlights curators as one of the 50 best careers of 2010.
- Career Overview: From the College Board Website, this link outlines the role curator and offers suggestions for pre-college coursework.
- Career Information: This link provides is an excellent guide for museum curator careers.
- Career Perspective: This link to the Princeton Review provides a day-in-the-life perspective of the curator career.
Associations and Organizations of note for those interested in Curator Careers:
- Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC): This is a link to the AAMC networking and professional networking website.
- Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD): The AAMD, an association of North American museum directors, establishes standards and a code of ethics for professional practice.
- Art History Resource Online: This comprehensive Website is a superb resource for art history scholarship.
- Career Alternatives for Art Historians: From the University of Notre Dame, this site outlines varying career paths for art history majors.
- Career Opportunities: This link to Museum.org provides museum job listings by category.
- Resources for Art History Graduate Students: This online newsletter lists grants, fellowships, and internships for graduate degree students.
- Museum Jobs: This site provides is a thorough assessment of museum careers and opportunities.