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Art History

Senior art history majors Elizabeth Jakaitis and Jordan Kirkbride at the Whistler and His Contexts exhibition which they co-curated with art history Professor Catherine Carter Goebel. They both conducted research in the Centre for Whistler Criticism. It was the first time students had co-curated. 

Art history graduate Stephanie Loria 11, left, is executive administrator, The Conservation Center, Chicago. Matt Bowman '11, right, was an Academic All-American at Augustana. He's now a graduate student at the University of Connecticut working on his master's in art history. He plans on continuing to eventually earn a Ph.D.

  • Careers/internships
  • About the program
  • What students say

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:

Kate McCormick '13 is in her first year of graduate study at Yale Divinity School.

Julie Napientek '13 is an English language teacher at a university in China and plans to attenc graduate school in art history in future.

Veronica Smith '12 is completing a master's degree in art history at the University of Iowa, and will go on next year to 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 a paraprofessional with Durand, Ill., schools. She uses Visual Thinking Strategies in tutoring sessions.

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

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.

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.

Megan O’Connor ’09, art history and psychology double-major:
“In the art history department, a curious student can pursue work and research opportunities that are absolutely invaluable... I have been able to work with and really get to know professors and staff, which has greatly enhanced my knowledge of the field and its real-world application. From helping to hang shows in the museum and being able to interact with works of art, to assisting in research with primary documents in the Whistler project, the department gives its students many rare and wonderful options to further expand their understanding.”

Emilie Malone ’10, art history and sociology double-major:
“The art history courses have given me a spectrum of knowledge and I am truly engaged in and outside of class. It has made me realize how beneficial a background in art history can be — this is an area that can be universally understood and appreciated. The art museum is a helpful tool in applying concepts learned in class."

April Bernath ’10, art history major, German minor:
“As an assistant to the Augustana art museum director, I’ve been able to develop an understanding of the way a museum is run — from setting up exhibits to accessioning works of art into our museum’s collection, to being able to handle and view priceless works of art.”

Matt Bowman ’11, art history major, Spanish minor:
“The art history program rolls all the classes offered here into one giant metaphorical and digestible ‘egg roll.’ This ‘egg roll’ is packed with parts from all the fundamental curriculum a college student should have under his belt. When taking an art history class, you will learn about philosophy, history, astronomy, classics, sociology, and more. Art history applies to the studies of any student here on campus. I can’t think of another field that has more to offer.”

Goebel helps to open "Cosmopolitan Wilde"

Dr. Catherine C. Goebel, professor of art history and Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts, presented an opening address in Paris for the interdisciplinary "Cosmopolitan Wilde: A Conference Celebrating 160 Years of Oscar" in June. Her talk, "Wilde About Whistler: The 'Gentle Art' of Critical Dialogue," examined unpublished archives from Augustana's Centre for Whistler Criticism.

College shows Swedish roots in art exhibit

Of all the museums in the world to which Samuel and Ann Charters could have donated their large collection of Swedish art, they chose Augustana College in Rock Island. Half of that 100-work collection, which spans the 1875-1977 period, will be on display Friday through Oct. 25. The collection challenges the visitor to "think about how the Franco-centric story of modern art has begun to give way to more nuanced appreciation of alternative modernisms," museum director Preston Thayer said. "For Swedish artists, this included finding ways to celebrate the Northern landscape."
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