Meet Your Major

As an art and art history major in the Visual and Performing Arts Department, you’ll learn how to identify distinctive artistic styles, recognize the social influences that have shaped visual arts, music and film, as well as create your own works of art.

Art and art history is a broad interdisciplinary major that allows you to investigate multiple studio art forms and art history. It establishes the connection between the art historian and the practicing studio artist. The program seeks to graduate well-rounded citizen artists, who have a strong understanding of both the art world and the larger contextual world in which it operates. As an art and art history major, you will be encouraged to pair your interests in art with other academic disciplines, exploring the true interdisciplinary connections and strength of the arts.

What You’ll Learn

In this major, you will benefit from small class sizes, individualized student/professor mentorship and have the flexibility to tailor your major to specific interests. You can take advantage of directed studies, art-focused study abroad programs and professional internships in regional art galleries, museums and for the Merrimack College Art Collection.

In the art and art history program, you’ll learn to:

  • Identify and distinguish cultural, regional and personal artistic styles.
  • Recognize the relationships that exist between works of art and their historical and cultural contexts.
  • Critically analyze and discuss artwork, scholarly essays and articles significant to the field.
  • Acquire technical and observational skills, as well as material knowledge to engage in artmaking.
  • Analyze, discuss and critique orally and in writing, with precision and clarity, qualities of your own artwork and the art and architecture of others.
  • Engage in creative and expressive work within the context of particular artistic disciplines measured through a portfolio.
  • Write artist statements and develop research papers using research tools and mechanics appropriate to the writing of research papers and artist statements required by the discipline of art and art history.

Hands-On Learning

Art and art history majors have access to a variety of learning opportunities beyond the classroom:

  • The Merrimack Film Club helps students deepen their understanding of cinematic history and innovation, and broaden their intellectual and creative horizons.
  • The McCoy Gallery, which serves as an on-campus showcase for professional artists practicing in a wide range of styles, enables students to engage with professional-quality work and offers student internships in art research, curation and gallery management.
  • The Thagaste Gallery showcases artwork created by students, faculty and community artists, and offers internships for students.
  • The Art Warriors, a student-run organization, is designed to help students experience and create art in a creative environment outside of the classroom.
  • The Media Center offers a supportive environment where students can collaborate, explore creative ideas and become visually literate developers and users of new media.

Career Options

Careers in the arts can lead you to work in museums, theatre/music/dance companies, think tanks, galleries, non-profit foundations, cultural organizations, grantmakers, festivals, arts councils and centers. An internship is highly recommended. By working with the O’Brien Center Career Development you can secure an on- or off campus internship in the arts. Upon successful completion of the art and art history program, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the arts and you’ll be positioned to succeed in a variety of careers, including:

  • Critic
  • Arts manager or coordinator
  • Program consultant
  • Museum and/or gallery positions
  • Teacher of the arts

In addition, you’ll have the background necessary to pursue graduate studies in art history, studio arts or arts administration.

What You’ll Take

The art and art history degree program requires a minimum of 12 courses, as specified below.

Required Courses

FAA 1310 The Nature of Music: The Art of Listening
FAA 1610  Art and Material Culture I: Prehistory to Renaissance  
FAA 1620  Art and Material Culture II: The Renaissance to Present
FAA 1710 Foundations of Making: Process and Creativity 
FAA 3960(W) Methodologies of Scholarship in the Visual and Performing Arts
FAA 4960 Senior Seminar With Thesis


Plus, the following six courses:

  • One photography, video or theatre course (studio; performance).
  • One studio art course (traditional studio).
  • History of Photography, History of Theater or History of Graphic Design.
  • Three period courses with two courses from the same historical period, i.e., Renaissance, Baroque, Modern. Moreover history or literature courses can be utilized here to compliment your art history or artistic research rather than art history courses.