Students who pursue a degree in art history are usually driven by a genuine passion for art. An art history program invites enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the fascinating intersection of creative production and cultural influence. Some students may even choose to study art history in Italy, where they can experience famous works of art—like Michelangelo’s ceiling at the Sistine Chapel—first hand, in their natural setting.
But despite the many rewards of studying art history, particularly in Rome where the city is your classroom, many students find themselves wondering exactly where this academic path will lead? Of course, the conventional trajectory for an art history major leads directly to a curator position at a museum or gallery. However, a look outside the box reveals many other possible avenues for the adaptive, creative, uniquely skilled art history major.
Surprisingly Marketable Skills
Apart from the ability to organize ideas, conduct research and collaborate with others, art history students develop a wide range of marketable skills that many employers find particularly desirable, including:
- The analysis and interpretation of information from various sources
- The use of critical judgement to form opinions and arguments
- The ability to present information in an intelligent and coherent way
- The ability to analyze information in historical, political and cultural context
- Aesthetic and design consciousness
- Superior communication skills, with the ability to listen and ask insightful questions
- Organizational and time management skills
Someone who has studied art history – abroad at an American university in Rome or at a college closer to home – has earned a degree well suited to range of career paths. Graduates pursue positions in art journalism, art appraisal and art consulting, but they also branch out into roles in marketing, public relations, education, heritage management and in international development
Marketing, Advertising and PR
Creativity, communication and research skills are essential in the fields of marketing, advertising and public relations. In addition to these highly desirable “soft” skills, art history grads understand the power of images. They know how images are constructed, and how images engage the world around them. They are experts in big-picture thinking without ever losing sight of the smallest detail. The increasingly image-based, communication-oriented industries of marketing, advertising and PR are perfect for art history majors with a creative flair and a unique understanding of how humans interact with the visual world.
Education and Cultural Heritage Management
Have you ever found yourself so captivated by something (perhaps a sculpture, ink drawing or oil canvas) that all you wanted to do was tell someone else about it? Behind every work of art lies a fascinating story – and art historians know how to peel back those layers of meaning. You could harness that passion for sharing in a career in education, or go into one of the current greatest economic growth areas: heritage management. Your superior communication skills and ability to inspire will mean that you can make art works come alive and create informed experiences of the past and of the present – for any target group.
International Development, NGO and Political Work
The big-picture thinking abilities of art historians also make them supremely suitable in international settings. For to be able to read art of different cultures and times requires an openness for multi-cultural relations and a rigorous ability for historical context. With their ability to analyze diverse contexts – cultural, social, political, religious, economic – art history grads are uniquely sensitive to different cultural viewpoints, values and beliefs. They understand how human experience is expressed through the visual world.
Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be giving lectures at an American college in Rome on how Art History helped you change the world!