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Visual & Performing Arts

Art and Art History


As an art and art history major, you’ll learn how to identify distinctive artistic styles and recognize the social influences that have shaped visual arts, music and film.

Through a combination of general art-history courses and complementary courses in music, film, photography, theatre and studio experience, you’ll receive a broad-based education in the arts.

Meet Your Major

In this major, you will first complete required courses in Methodology and Art Literature and then focus on a specific era in art history — the Renaissance, Baroque/Classic, Romantic, 19th- and early-20th centuries, or modern. You’ll gain a comprehensive and informed view of the era you choose by completing a combination of courses relevant to this period, taking two semesters of a foreign language (preferably one suitable to the era you’re studying) and attending cultural events on a regular basis. And you’ll conclude the program with the Senior Seminar with Thesis, which integrates the various strands of your diverse coursework in the arts.

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

  • Identify and distinguish among cultural, regional and personal artistic styles.
  • Recognize the relationships that exist between works of art and their historical and cultural contexts.
  • Analyze and discuss orally and in writing, with precision and clarity, qualities of a given work of art or architecture.
  • Critically analyze and discuss artwork, scholarly essays and articles significant to the field.
  • Employ research tools and mechanics appropriate to the writing of research papers 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

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
  • Art coordinator
  • Program consultant
  • Museum and/or gallery positions
  • Teacher of art history

In addition, you’ll have the background necessary to pursue graduate studies.

What You’ll Take

All art and art history majors must complete of a minimum of 48 credits and a minimum of 12 courses, as specified below. To graduate with a degree in art and art history, you must maintain a GAP of at least 2.0 in your selected courses.

Core Courses

All art and art history majors must take the following courses:

FAA 1710 Foundations of the Visual Arts  
FAA 1310  The Nature of Music 
FAA 1610  Art History I  
FAA 1620  Art History II 
One of the following
  • Photography
  • Video
  • Theatre (studio; performance) 
  Studio Art (traditional studio)  
One of the following
  • FAA 4420 History of Photography
  • FAA 2520 Theatre History I
  • FAA 3850 History of Graphic Design
Three of these six period courses, at least two of which must be from the same period.
  • History
  • Art, music or photography
  • Theater or literature





Advanced Coursework

After completing the core courses, you’ll be prepared to enroll in two advanced courses to complete the program:

FAA 3960  Methodologies of Scholarship in the Visual and Performing Arts 
FAA 4960 Senior Seminar with Thesis

Courses in the School of Liberal Arts are scheduled to account for instructional time that is commensurate with credits earned.

More Info

Kathleen Sills, Chair
Visual and Performing Arts 
Associate Professor, Theater

978-837-3439
sillsk@merrimack.edu