William and Mary

Art & Art History

A main goal of the Department of Art and Art History is to help students acquire visual intelligence, i.e., the ability to understand and respond critically to our world’s art and visual culture and how it has been shaped by the visual traditions of other times and places. Students in our department develop sophisticated written, technical, and visual abilities that allow them to convey their ideas, their understanding, and their appreciation of art. 

Studio Art introduces and cultivates proficiency in the practices of the artist and the creative process. Seeing and conceptualizing are taught as integral to art-making. Art History focuses on how to look at works of art and develop methods of critical inquiry and analysis. Students consider various approaches – aesthetic, cultural, and social – across a wide spectrum of periods and cultures.

Our faculty-curated Andrews Gallery exhibits contemporary work in various media, particularly those such as painting, drawing, sculpture, prints, ceramics, and architecture, that are taught in the department. The College’s Muscarelle Museum provides internships and research opportunities for art and art history students. The department's Visual Resources Center collects, catalogues, stores and makes available images of architecture, drawings, sculptures, sites, events, paintings, photographs, prints, and manuscripts (about 100,000 slides and 22,000 digital images), supporting the department's teaching and research.

Majors in Studio Art hold a senior exhibition and participate in regional shows and in Honors projects. Art History students are encouraged to undertake Honors projects and participate in student research symposia, such as the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Art and Art History faculty are active in creative work and research, and there are opportunities for student/faculty collaboration.  Student run groups include a ceramics club, an architecture and design club, and an on-line journal, “Spirit of the Living Watching.” Another student group, Tangelo, sponsors lectures, museum trips, and student shows.  Tangelo also hosts open model sessions, in which students and faculty work side by side drawing, painting, and sculpting from a live model Thursday evenings throughout the academic year.  Our students have received internships at museums such as the Cloisters and the National Gallery of Art and have gone on to graduate work in art history and fine arts programs. A number have pursued careers as art historians, curators, painters, sculptors, ceramicists, architects, urban planners, and in many other fields.