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Art History

Learning directly from the Augustana teaching collection

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Sarah Berndt
Sarah Berndt used the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art's collection of more than 400 inkstands for a Senior Inquiry project in art history.

Augustana offers a major and minor in art history with a curriculum that moves from Paleolithic cave paintings to contemporary art on multiple continents.

Students progress from a general survey of Western art and advance to more specialized study

Careers and internships

All art history majors who have worked with an advisor through the application process have been successfully admitted to competitive graduate programs in art history. Majors also have utilized their rich background in art history toward law and medical school.

Careers include teaching on the college level; directing or curating at a museum or gallery; or working in museum education, art conservation, arts advocacy, visual resources centers, auction houses, historic preservation and art book and catalogue publishing.

The Augustana Teaching Museum of Art and the Visual Resources Center provide work-study opportunities for students to gain first-hand experience in museum operations and collections management.

Through Augustana’s internship program, students may apply for summer, term- or year-long internships at major museums and art organizations, most recently at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Recent grads:

Julie Napientek '13 is a master's student at Richmond, The American International University in London.

Amanda Miller '12 is the curator of the Geneseo (Ill.) Historical Museum.

Veronica Smith '12 is a student in Harvard University's Master of Design program.

Stephanie Loria '11 obtained a master's degree in art business at Sotheby's in London, and is executive administrator, The Conservation Center, Chicago.

April Bernath '10 is education and outreach coordinator at the Massillon Museum, Massillon, Ohio.

Matt Lewis '09 is digital designer at Sears Holdings Corporation in Chicago.


Courses challenge students to evaluate and interpret works of art as historical documents. To foster close contact with faculty and peers, classes are kept small, ranging from a maximum of 25 students for the art history survey to around five for the senior seminar.

The Augustana College Teaching Museum of Art is a teaching collection covering all major art historical periods. Students study directly from these original works.

Augustana students pursue Senior Inquiry and work with a faculty advisor to research a topic or do a community service-related academic project. For art history majors, this culminates in a capstone paper and public presentation.

Art history students also may present papers at the annual Celebration of Learning research symposium and participate in research associated with the Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts.

What students say

Vernon Meidlinger-Chin ’13, geology major, art history minor
Now a master’s student at the Museum of Natural History, New York

“I found that art history helped me foster two very different ways of thinking. The first is the fast, on-your-feet kind of thinking. The second is the slow, deeply analytical kind of thinking… These two ways of thinking are so useful in myriad circumstances. The first one allows for very improvisational problem solving and critical-thinking abilities. The second allows for very creative and constructive work.”

Julianne Medel ’09, art history and studio art double major
Now the youth education coordinator at Waukegan Public Library

“The art history program at Augustana taught me several things I have carried into my position, even though its not directly related… I learned to write a strong argument in my papers at Augustana and take those same ideals to my grant writing. I also don't mind all the research! I look at it just like I did my art history papers, research only strengthens your argument.”

Veronica Smith ’12, art history, studio art, and environmental studies triple major
M.A. Art History, University of Iowa; now a master’s student in design studies at Harvard University

“I have been able to craft an academic niche at the intersection of science and visual culture… My recent work focuses on the visualization of the effects of climate change, broader issues of environmental literacy, and on participatory artistic practice as a vehicle of social change. Without the support of Augustana art history faculty, and their commitment to interdisciplinary study, I would not have the confidence to pursue such unorthodox interests and I would not have been able to gain experience in independent research.”

Stephanie Loria ’11, art history and psychology double major
Now executive administrator at the Chicago Conservation Center

“Having the basis that I do from my art history degree, I can go into any foreign city and immediately recognize and understand elements of their culture and history from the art they display. From iconography, to materials used, to intent behind creating the artworks, there is always something I can relate to and understand. I don't believe there is any other degree that can put an alum in this type of position. Art history as a subject is an amalgamation of other areas of study; it allows for development of a different kind of knowledge.”

Julie Napientek ’13, art history and anthropology double major
Now a master’s student in art history at Richmond University in London; intern, JGM Art, London

“A degree in art history offers a person more than just a knowledge of art, it also comes with many marketable skills that are applicable to a variety of professions. One of the biggest skills that is developed by an art historian is research (including first hand research!). Each work of art has its own unique story to tell, and there are a variety of different angles of approach to learn what exactly that story is. Going hand in hand with research is the development of the ability to express one's ideas, both through writing and orally...”

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Students curate college art at Silvis Library

The Augustana Teaching Museum of Art has partnered with the nearby Silvis Public Library to display student-curated exhibits from the museum's collection.