... the Enlightenment invention of the modern museum was an event as profound and far-reaching in its implications as the articulation of central-point perspective several centuries earlier...
Donald Preziosi, 2009 (1998), The Art of Art History. A Critical Anthology. Oxford: Oxford UP. p.490

Art can be defined as the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, especially in the production of aesthetic objects such as painting and sculpture, which are appreciated for their beauty and emotional power.

Art History at University College encourages both an appreciation of art and its academic study. Key works of art, which are important both aesthetically and for their place in the history of art, are studied through different approaches. Art History investigates how painting, sculpture, architecture, industrial design and photography exemplify the ways humans have found for portraying, decorating, and designing the world, across the centuries. Shared methodologies form the basis for understanding art and engaging in scholarly debate. Learning how to look at the world in these ways, Art History contributes to a Liberal Arts and Sciences education.

The second thread of Art History is Museum Studies which focuses on the display and management of art and other collections in the public museum context. We approach key cases, from the Enlightenment to the present, through methodologies and concepts that enable an understanding of this crucial institution of modernity. Tracing the historical monument, from prehistory through Classical Antiquity, to the Middle Ages and Renaissance, to the Enlightenment; in the subsequent debates of Romanticism, in 20th-century urban planning and heritage situates the public museum in broader transnational contexts.

One place to which the two threads of the track can be traced back is the 17th-century kunstkammer and the systematic visual representation it tried to create. Printed images of the kunstkammer situate the beholder in an idealized position, commanding a central perspective over the room and its ordered collection. Modern image technology positions the museum and its contents within an array of visual regimes – through photography, film, and digital media. Art History adds a vital perspective and content to many fields, which often converge through the spaces of the museum. 

UCU Cultural Heritage Programme (CHIP)

Students have the opportunity to participate in CHIP. The UCU Cultural Heritage Program (CHIP) entails learning about heritage from the various perspectives
of the arts, the social sciences and the sciences. As part of this program students can do an internship at a Dutch museum (for example the Van Gogh museum) or a museum in the UK (for example the British Museum). It enables students, while still undergraduates, to gain experience of and contribute to the crucial practices of managing, preserving, researching, and exhibiting cultural heritage.

The Art History and Museum Studies track cultivates both an appreciation of art and its academic study. Similarly, the (art) museum is both a location for enjoying art and culture and can be studied academically. Works of art have the aesthetic power to move us emotionally, through their meaning and significance, and can become objects of study through different approaches. Contextual knowledge and personal experience are both relevant for the process of beholding art. Interpreting art and engaging in debate and exchange rests on shared methodologies acquired through academic study.

The academic purpose of studying art history is to develop the capacity of understanding how images work through critical viewing of art and the art museum. This viewing, or beholding, depends on careful study of primary and secondary sources. It involves paying careful attention to the accounts of writers and theorists of art through time, to visual representations of the image, to the materials used, to the physical location(s) of the artwork in its historical setting(s), and on the journeys, it may have made; in addition to viewers and audiences.

Students become acquainted with philosophers and theorists of art, in addition to artists, from Antiquity to the present. Art, museums, and heritage, in all their myriad forms today, make Art History and Museum Studies relevant for tracks across the UCU curriculum – from Anthropology to History (of Science), from Philosophy to Media Studies; and from Law to Chemistry – to mention a few. Cross-curricular relevance of Art History and Museum Studies is evident in the UCU Cultural Heritage Programme (CHIP)   

The Art History and Museum Studies track consists of a total of five courses and two interwoven threads which are distributed evenly over the academic year. The 100-level Introduction to Art History and Museum Studies is offered in both Fall and Spring semesters. The 200-level Museum Studies and 300-level Modern Art are taught in the Fall semester. The 200 level Dutch 17th-century Painting and 300-level Heritage: Dynamics of Collections are scheduled in Spring. Fitting these five courses into your curriculum should be fairly straightforward. For example: 1st year - HAR11 in Fall or Spring; Second year - HAR22 in Fall, HAR21 in Spring; 3rd year – HAR31 in Fall and HAR32 in Spring. There are, of course, several other ways of doing this, depending on your interests, on whether you are writing your bachelor thesis in the track, and on whether you plan to undertake the 200-level academic internship.

Master programmes in Art History, Museum Studies, Heritage Studies in the Netherlands and abroad typically require at least 60ECTS in the field of Art History and Museum Studies as part of your degree. Students who take all 5 Art History and Museum Studies courses, write their thesis in Art History & Museum Studies, and undertake an academic internship in a museum or heritage institution, have a total of 67,5ECTS. University College Utrecht students have been accepted for the Art History Research Master at the UU, and for various Master programmes in Art History, Museum Studies, and Heritage Studies at Leiden, Amsterdam; University College London, Goldsmith’s, London; Sotheby’s London; Cambridge; Edinburgh; Stockholm. Students should always look into specific requirements of Master programmes, but experience shows that students who take the complete Art History and Museum Studies track, combined with their other tracks, have a solid foundation for graduate studies in Art History, Museum Studies, Heritage Studies.

Level Fall Spring Summer
1 HUMHAR11: Introduction to Art History and Museum Studies HUMHAR11: Introduction to Art History and Museum Studies  
2* HUMHAR22: Museum Studiesx HUMHAR21: Reflections on Dutch 17th Century Painting  
  SSCANT23: The Materiality of Culturex  
3 HUMHAR31: Modern Art HUMHAR32: Heritage: Dynamics of Collectionsx  

x cross-listed

Students have the opportunity to participate in CHIP. The UCU Cultural Heritage Program (CHIP) entails learning about heritage from the various perspectives
of the arts, the social sciences and the sciences. It enables students, while still undergraduates, to gain experience of and contribute to the crucial practices of managing, preserving, researching, and exhibiting cultural heritage.

* it is adivised to follow Humanities Lab course.

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