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Students participate in the cleaning process of the canvas.

Art History

You love it! It’s beautiful! And also… confusing? Maybe even… disturbing? When you see a piece of art—a painting, a sculpture, a building—that affects you deeply, how can you begin to talk about all the things it makes you think and feel? And how does art even do those things anyway—technically, aesthetically, and emotionally?

Degree Types
Complementary Programs
Distinctive Requirements

Welcome to Art History at McDaniel. Art History is a discipline that connects history, religion, philosophy, creativity, aesthetics, and issues of style in the study of any period or part of the world. From the first instances of humanity’s development as homo sapiens, there has been art—from the cave walls to modern expressions of the world around us. In Art History, we seek to understand that art by examining contexts and influences not only on the artist, but also how viewers responded to representations as well as how ideas at the time are reflected.

See Artists In Action

Twice a semester, students have the opportunity to hear emerging and mid-career, nationally and internationally recognized artists, speak about their work and the trajectory of their careers.

Future Career Paths

Graduates of the Art and Art History department have gone on to work as:

  • Independent artists
  • Children’s book authors and illustrator
  • Art therapists
  • Art professors
  • Graphic designers
  • Art writers
  • Museum curators

Our students have gone on to graduate programs in: painting, sculpture, new media, inter-media and digital arts, graphic design, interior design, exhibition design, curatorial practices, art criticism, and art therapy. They have pursued advanced degrees at colleges and universities like:

  • George Washington University
  • Maryland Institute College of Art
  • Academy of Fine Art
  • Pratt Institute
  • School of Visual Arts in New York City
  • University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Distinctive Courses

AHY 1113 - History of Western Art I

A survey of painting, sculpture, and architecture from 15,000 B.C. to 1400 A.D. Included are Near Eastern, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Medieval Art.

AHY 2239 - Romanticism and Impressionism

A study of the major artists of the nineteenth century including David, Goya, Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and Gauguin. Both European and American art are included.

AHY 3305 - Sacred Architecture

An historical and systematic examination of both formal and symbolic aspects of structures built for religious purposes, along with their associated religious activities.  Overlapping cultural and symbolic meanings will be studied, with in depth readings of associated religious texts.

AHY 2226 - History of Chinese Art to A.D. 960

Concentrating on the arts and architecture of China from the Neolithic era to the beginning of the Song dynasty (960), this course will include the Great Bronze Age and the rise of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, with a special focus on Buddhist art and architecture. The philosophical, religious, and historical backgrounds of these movements will be emphasized.

Program Requirements

The McDaniel Commitment in Action

The McDaniel Commitment—a series of opportunities guaranteed to all students—provides enhanced mentoring and coaching, and ensures every undergraduate student completes at least two meaningful experiential learning opportunities.

Professor and students gathered around “Portrait of the Lady” painting after restoration.

Hands-On History

“When the portrait first came in, it was in this really brittle condition,” says junior Art History major Patrick Hardy. “You could break it by hand. But now it’s flexible, it moves. At the beginning of the semester, I didn’t think there was any way we could have this thing restored.” Senior Lecturer Katya Dovgan’s Basics of Art Conservation introduces students to the world of art restoration, by putting the principles, ethics, and techniques of art conservation and restoration into action.

Gretchen McKay

Meet Our Faculty Dr. Gretchen McKay

Dr. Gretchen McKay is an expert in Byzantine and Early Christian art, Medieval art and 19th-century art, who brought the “Reacting to the Past” series, which immerses students in historical events through role-playing, to McDaniel and is the author of one of the series’ games, “Modernism vs. Traditionalism: Art in Paris, 1888-89,” now in use in many colleges and universities nationwide. Recipient of The Ira G. Zepp Distinguished Teaching Award, the College's top teaching award, she is currently the faculty mentor to the McDaniel Green Terror football team and her work was featured in the NCAA's Champion magazine.