The Art History program at VCUarts Qatar is the only undergraduate degree program of its kind in the Gulf region and offers a distinctive concentration in Islamic art within a global perspective.
The program is designed to focus on the interchange between the Islamic World, the Western World and the non-Islamic cultures of Asia. Students are offered the opportunity to study the complexity of cultural interchange that has formed the basis of our increasingly globalized modern and contemporary world. It shifts a Western-oriented curriculum prevalent in most university Art History programs to one that encompasses a multi-cultural approach.
Such an approach reflects the geographical location and historical involvement of Qatar, which since Antiquity has been part of international trade routes linking both the Central Islamic lands, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Its location at the crossroads has created a rich and diverse culture in Qatar up to the present day. This unique BA program in Art History that focuses on exchange and dialogue through visual culture is particularly suited for such an environment.
Art history is a discipline in the humanities concentrating on the examination of visual and material culture, past and present. It explores how images, objects, spaces, and other physical aspects shape and embody the beliefs and concerns of a society or community.
Using a wide range of historically specific methodologies, art historians interpret visual materials as expressions and reflections of political and social ideologies, as nodes of global exchange, as contestations of the sacred and the secular, and as discourse on a variety of topics including consumerism, gender relations, national identities and post-colonial theories to name a few.
The study of art history develops skills in historical interpretation, visual literacy, and critical analysis of the visual arts and architecture. Art history is crucial for anyone interested in pursuing a career in the visual arts. Students hone visual literacy skills enabling him or her to critically derive meaning from material culture and articulate it coherently and persuasively through language - written and oral.
Art history teaches students to look at the visual world actively and to offer informed interpretations by analyzing the context and content of the monuments and works of art. Classroom instruction involves close examination of artworks, readings on critical theory, contemporary art production and immersion in diverse and cutting-edge scholarship to enhance critical thinking and analytical reasoning.
Through the major and minor in Art History, VCUarts Qatar aims to educate a new generation of critical thinkers and cultural heritage stewards who are dynamically engaged in understanding the interrelatedness and complexity of global issues. The Art History faculty is dedicated to fostering dialogue with the larger community of Qatar and the Middle East through lecture series, symposia, and inter-institutional initiatives. The BA in Art History prepares students for further graduate study in a range of disciplines as well as career paths such as museum or gallery curatorship, conservation and historic preservation, art appraisal, art law and others.
The newly founded museums, collections and galleries in Qatar and the Gulf region at large, as well as other parts of the Arab world, hold a broad range of collections and offer opportunities for research, internships and volunteer experiences. Fieldwork and study abroad programs will also be available to interested students.
Faculty members in the Art History program conduct research and teach in several areas including Islamic art, Asian art, European art since the Renaissance, art of the Ancient World, American art, and modern and contemporary art of the Arab world.
All graduates complete a liberal arts and science core curriculum in addition to their major program; these courses enrich a student’s understanding of the world and help them frame their art and design studies into a broad intellectual context. High achieving students will also be invited to follow our Honors program to enhance their education.
Degree requirement descriptions, including general education requirements, collateral requirements, Major requirements and open electives can be found at this link:
Descriptions for the Minor in Islamic Art History can be found at this link:
Semester plans can be found at this link:
Course descriptions can be found at this link:
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The Art History department hosted a symposium on April 8, 2018, titled, “Training Art Curators in the 21st Century”. Director of Art History Dr. Sean Roberts was one of the speakers.
The study of art history develops skills in historical interpretation, visual literacy, and critical analysis of the visual arts and architecture.
Assistant Professor of Art History, Dr. Holiday Powers at Tasmeem Doha 2017, VCUarts Qatar's biennial art and design conference.
Art History activities during Zwara, a VCUarts Qatar Open House event
Explore history by visiting Qatar's many museums and art galleries from the Museum of Islamic Art (shown here) to Mathaf and Katara's many visiting exhibitions.
The author of "Printing a Mediterranean World" is our Interim Director of Art History Dr. Sean Roberts; and the co-author of "India East-West" is Associate professor of Art History, Dr. Jochen Sokoly. Both books can be found at our Library.
The VCUarts Qatar Art History program offers students the unique opportunity to gain firsthand experience and explore the artworks at the world-class museums in Doha, under the auspices of the Qatar Museum Authority.
These include :
The Museum of Islamic Art, The Orientalist Museum, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Sheikh Faisal Museum, as well as galleries at the Katara Cultural Village.
Art History students will have opportunities for museum and gallery internships, field study, as well as study-abroad programs to Europe, USA and Asia that are led by the program faculty.
VCUarts Qatar also co-sponsors the Hamad bin Khalifa Symposium on Islamic Art, a leading biennial international symposium on Islamic art and culture.
You can find out more about the Islamic Art Symposium here.