Are you artistic and open-minded? Do you have strong attention to detail? Are you passionate about visual design and architecture? If you answered yes to these questions, you may be suited for studies in history of art and design. Keep reading to learn more about this field of study and your possible career options if you pursue it.
The study of art history and design suggests that the nature of a culture is revealed best by its art and architecture. Knowing that they have a talent for design and art, some individuals use art history and design to sharpen their abilities in the arts so they can pursue a career in advertising, media, fashion or design. As an art and design professional, you may find work in advertising agencies, museums, archives, fashion design companies, galleries, historical societies, interior design companies and historic preservation firms. Depending on your specific title, you may be responsible for a wide range of projects, from promoting an artist or art gallery to organizing fundraisers, auctions and gallery showings. As an art historian you may even use this field of study to work with disabled people by using art therapy.
If you're interested in studying art history and design, you should expect favorable job prospects over the next several years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for archivists, curators and museum technicians is expected to grow by 20% over the 2008-2018 decade, while jobs for graphic artists are projected to see a 13% growth in the same period (www.bls.gov). Reported average annual salaries in May 2010 were as follows: $53,160 for curators, $49,190 for archivists, $41,940 for museum technicians and $48,140 for graphic artists.
Most of the positions available for the art historian or designer require individuals to have earned at least a bachelor's degree. As a student in bachelor's degree in art history program, you may take classes in subjects such as introduction to art, history of modern art, the art of ancient Egypt, art and mythology, women in art and Asian art, as well as courses in, digital imaging, architecture, city planning and aesthetic theory.
To work as an art curator or appraiser, one usually must have a master's degree or doctorate and valid work experience. Competition for these jobs is can be intense so the more experience one obtains, the greater the chances of employment and advancement. Many schools offer graduate degrees such as the Master of Arts in History of Decorative Arts and Design, which allows you to study topics such as arts of the ancient worlds, the Aesthetic Movement, Gothic revival, 20th century fashion, American furniture and ceramics. Programs at this level may also give you an opportunity to participate in lectures and discussions on design history, as well as take part in museum study, where you'll receive hands-on experience in museum practices.
In addition to more coursework, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs may require you to exhibit reading knowledge of a foreign language, and may give you an opportunity to receive more in-depth instruction on certain periods of history or design concepts. You'll also have to pass a qualifying examination for Ph.D. candidacy and complete an independently-researched doctoral dissertation in an area of art history that interests you.