Art History

Art History recognizes that things that we call “art” are not only eye-catching but are laden with meaning.

Art History is an interdisciplinary field of study that draws upon and relates to many other areas including history, philosophy, literature, language, science, religion, and technology.  It is closely connected to anthropology, archeology, and cultural studies.

Art Historians are interested in the ways in which we communicate through images and the built environment, and in the ways in which the human relationship to images, forms, and structures has changed over time and differs from one geographical and cultural context to another. We view the visual arts of various human societies as active agents in shaping perception, affecting behavior, and expressing messages in works that represent thoughtful and complex combinations of form and content. We ask, “Why has art been so important in the past, how does it affect our present, and how will it shape our future?”

The Art History Division at NIU offers both a Bachelors and a Masters degree, as well as a Certificate of Graduate Study in Art History. Graduates from the Art History programs at NIU have pursued many different kinds of careers, from teaching at the college level, to curatorial and related educational work in museums, to art-related library careers, to advanced graduate study in institutions around the world.

Our faculty members are recognized for their outstanding reputations for research in their special fields of study. We couple this with a commitment to teaching students from undergraduate to graduate levels and a strong desire to see students excel. Come explore with us!


Mandalay Period, 19th Century
Carved wood, lacquered, gilded, with mirror inlay
h. 56 1/2 in., w. 22 5/8 in., d. 26 3/8 in.
NIU Burma Art Collection

Gift of Konrad and Sarah Bekker, 1987

© Center for Burma Studies

niu | school of art and design
jack arends building
dekalb, il 60115-2883