About the Program

WSU offers a minor in Art History, which is very useful and rewarding to many students, some of whom have gone on museum careers and graduate studies in the field. There are also required courses in Art History in all three majors: Studio Art, Art Teaching, and Graphic Design.

The study of Art History is an integral part of the Liberal Arts.  The visual art of any given culture can help us to understand this culture’s beliefs, ideals, and assumptions, many of which are not immediately apparent (even and especially our own). 

At Winona State University’s Art Department, Art History is an integral component of all three of our degree programs, and is also offered as a minor.  Because our department grants degrees to working artists, teachers, and designers, the Art History offerings stress modern and contemporary developments, which are, however, built upon an understanding of tradition. 

Beginning courses introduce students to the breadth of artistic styles and traditions, while providing valuable exercises in analysis and research.  Upper level courses across a range of topics expose students to primary source material by artists and critics, scholarly sources, as well as in-depth observation and discussion, in order to incite him or her to join the critical dialogue that defines the study of art.  These upper level courses also hone the student’s ability to pursue knowledge independently.  

With the vibrant exhibition program of the Art Department’s Watkins Gallery, the nearby Minnesota Marine Art Museum, and the world-class Minneapolis Institute of Art and Walker Art Center just over two hours away, there is ample opportunity for direct encounters with the objects of our study. Art History classes travel widely to view original art, and students are encouraged to participate in art study trips to Chicago, New York, and further abroad. At the same time, Art History at WSU takes advantage of the online communication and research tools available at a laptop university.  While receiving instruction in proper scholarly research, students are also drawn into the ongoing national and international dialogue that is unfolding through blogs, museum and gallery websites, and respected publications with online components.  By keeping a critical and discerning eye on the art world, students will learn that art is never only historical, and that an exhibition today of objects from 1940, 1280, or 500 BCE can impact what comes out of studios next week.

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