As an art history major at Union, you will study a broad range of visual communication across historical periods and cultures – from Renaissance masterworks, Chinese scroll paintings and modern art to the art and science of painting – as you explore how societies throughout history have defined themselves through art.

The Department of Visual Arts offers a dynamic program that features small classes with individual attention and actively engaged professors. Interdisciplinary opportunities include work with Asian studies, American studies, Latin American and Caribbean studies, Africana studies, gender, sexuality and women's studies, film studies and art conservation.


Faculty specialties include Italian Renaissance painting, Latin American and Caribbean art, Islamic art and architecture, 19th and 20th century European and American art, the arts of Japan, the history of photography, the art and archaeology of early China, and contemporary art and visual culture.

Special learning opportunities

The department sponsors an array of field trips to museums in New York City and other locales. Students also learn from original works of art in the Mandeville Gallery and the special collections of Schaffer Library, home to many rare prints, photographs, manuscripts and artifacts. Each spring, art history majors present their research at Steinmetz Symposium, a day-long research festival.

Beyond campus, students can take advantage of a departmental term abroad in Italy (Florence) and mini-term in France (Paris). Internships and other forms of specialized study can be arranged with the Union College Permanent Collection, art galleries and museums in the Capital Region, as well as in New York City, Washington, D.C., and abroad.


Art history graduates have secured jobs in major museums, galleries, auction houses and libraries. Advanced study in the field can lead to positions in museum curating, teaching art history and visual culture, art conservation, historic preservation, publishing, and advertising and communications.