History of Art and Design

The history of art and design is the study of the ways design has changed over the course of history, such as the conversion from hand layouts to the use of computers. Keep reading to learn more about this field of study, as well as what kind of career you might pursue with a degree in art history.

Should I Study the History of Art and Design?

Career Overview

The study of art history, design and architecture can help you understand buildings, decorative items, paintings and sculptures as forms of cultural expression. A background in art history and design can also provide you the interdisciplinary background you need to pursue a career in advertising and graphic design or museum work.

Career Options

As an art and design professional, you may find work in a historical society or preservation firm, museum or gallery. Depending on your specific title, you may be responsible for a wide range of projects, from promoting an artist or business to organizing fundraisers, auctions and gallery showings.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), opportunities for archivists, curators and museum technicians are expected to grow by an average rate nationwide between 2012 and 2022. Graphic designers will see a slower-than-average increase during the same 10-year period. As of May 2013, archivists and curators had median annual incomes of $49,110 and $50,550 respectively; museum technicians earned $40,020 in the same month. Graphic designers who were employed in their field in May 2013 had median annual incomes of $44,830 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Art History and Design?

Undergraduate Programs

A bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study is usually required to obtain a position as an art historian or graphic designer. As an undergraduate in a 4-year art history program, you may study ancient, Asian and modern art, mythology or the role of women in art. You might also pursue topics in digital imaging, architecture, city planning and aesthetic theory.

Master's Degree Programs

A master's degree and relevant work experience are usually required to obtain a job as an art curator or appraiser. Many schools offer graduate degree programs that can lead to a Master of Arts in History of Decorative Arts and Design. Course topics may include the study of the aesthetic movement, gothic revival, 20th-century fashion, American furniture and ceramics. In addition to coursework, you may participate in lectures and discussions on design history or pursue an internship in a museum.

Doctoral Programs

Admission to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program may require a reading knowledge of a foreign language. Once enrolled, you might be able to delve a little deeper into a favorite period of art history or conduct a closer examination of design concepts. To advance to Ph.D. candidacy, you'll also have to pass a qualifying exam and complete independent research in preparation for your doctoral dissertation.

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