Art both reflects and helps to create a culture’s vision of itself. Studying the art of the past teaches us how people have seen themselves and their world, and how they want to show this to others.

Why study history of art?

Art history provides a means by which we can understand our human past and its relationship to our present, because the act of making art is one of humanity’s most ubiquitous activities.

As an art historian you will learn about this rich and fundamental strand of human culture. You will learn to talk and write about works of art from different periods and places, in the same way that other students learn to write about literature or history. 

But you will also learn skills unique to art historians. You will learn to make visual arguments and, above all, you will train your eyes and brain in the skills of critical looking. Don't take our word for it! Neuroscientists have shown that trained art historians see the world differently.


Scientists have tracked the movements of an art historian’s eyes: the results show how they scan, fixate and linger on particular points of the canvas reveals their skill and is entirely different to someone with an untrained eye.

Dr Daniel Glaser, Director, Science Gallery, King's College London
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