Art History

Print Version


Museums and Galleries

  • Administration
  • Curatorial
  • Preservation and conservation
  • Restoration
  • Registrarial

  • Collections management
  • Exhibit design/preparation
  • Archive management
  • Education
  • Publications

  • Development/Fundraising
  • Docent coordination
  • Public relations
  • Reproductions and retailing
  • Planner/Coordinator


  • Art museums:
    • University
    • Public
    • Private

  • Archives
  • Historical societies
  • Natural history museums

  • Living history museums
  • Galleries
  • Independent exhibition planning organizations


  • Gain relevant experience through internships or volunteer positions in museums or galleries.
  • Visit museums around the country and world to gain exposure to art.
  • Learn a foreign language and plan to study abroad.
  • Supplement curriculum with courses in history, religion, anthropology, and classical civilizations.
  • Most art historians specialize in a period or region.
  • Acquire strong skills in research, fundraising, speaking, writing, and attention to detail.
  • Plan to earn a graduate degree in art history, museum studies, or other related discipline depending on specific interests. Each specialty has varying qualifications and required training.
  • Develop interpersonal skills, including the ability to work well on teams.
  • Read published resources provided by the American Association of Museums (AAM).



Arts Sales

  • Appraisal: art and estate
  • Sales
  • Antiques dealing
  • Antiquarian book dealer

  • Art authentication
  • Public relations
  • Website management
  • Photography


  • Self-employed
  • Art dealers
  • Galleries:
    • Profit and nonprofit
  • Museums

  • Auction houses
  • Specialty stores
  • Interior design firms
  • Insurance agencies
  • Commercial art manufacturers


  • Learn to communicate effectively with a wide range of people. Take additional courses in interpersonal communication and public speaking.
  • Pursue a business minor to increase knowledge of business principles. An understanding of public relations is also helpful.
  • Prepare to work independently and be self- motivated.
  • Plan to work irregular or long hours.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit, including self-discipline and perseverance, are keys to success.
  • Obtain sales experience through internships or summer and part-time jobs.
  • Volunteer in museums, membership drives, local galleries, auction houses, and community outreach programs.
  • Serve as a student assistant in a university gallery.
  • Research certificate programs in appraisal studies to prepare for that field.
  • Consider earning a minor in a foreign language.



  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Administration
  • Library/Information sciences
  • Visual Resources curating

  • Student affairs: student activities, leadership development, admissions, orientation, career services, residence life, multi-cultural affairs, study abroad, international student services.
  • Academic affairs: academic support services, advising, educational advancement programs, honors programs.

  • Community education
  • Educational program coordinator


  • Public and private schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Art and design schools
  • Art libraries
  • Museums


  • Develop excellent speaking, writing, and research skills.
  • Learn how to develop curriculum and workshops and how to use multimedia.
  • Become an expert in a particular subject.
  • Acquire a background in foreign languages such as German or French.
  • Obtain degree and certification in art education for public school teaching.
  • Ph.D. is required for teaching and research in colleges and universities. Teaching art history at this level is extremely competitive.
  • Earn a master’s degree in information science for librarianships or college student personnel/higher education administration for other positions in colleges and universities.
  • Maintain a high grade point average and secure strong faculty recommendations.
  • Seek campus leadership positions such as peer mentor, orientation leader, or resident assistant.



  • Publishing
  • Editing
  • Freelance writing
  • Art criticism

  • Set design
  • Costuming
  • Website designer


  • Newspapers
  • Art magazines and journals
  • Textbook or commercial publishing houses

  • News departments of local, public, and commercial radio and TV stations
  • Syndicated radio services

  • Internet sites
  • Movie studios
  • Production companies


  • Consider obtaining a minor or double major in journalism or broadcasting/electronic media, English, or theater depending upon interests.
  • Develop excellent writing and editing skills along with knowledge of the history and culture of art.
  • Learn web design skills to prepare for online work. This area of journalism is growing while print is declining.
  • Become comfortable working in a deadline-oriented atmosphere.
  • Work with campus or local newspapers, TV, or radio stations. Create a portfolio of work samples, especially those that have been published.
  • Seek opportunities for recognition and networking through writing contests and freelance writing submissions.
  • Complete internships, even if unpaid, in movie studios or other relevant organizations.



  • Administration
  • Management
  • Public relations

  • Development
  • Research
  • Grant writing
  • Direct service


  • Local and national nonprofit agencies:
    • Arts Education Partnership
    • National Arts Education Association
    • Americans for the Arts
  • Foundations:
    • International Child Art Foundation
    • Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

  • Trade or professional associations
  • Special interest groups
  • Libraries
  • Museums:
    • University
    • Public
    • Private

  • Historic sites:
    • Biltmore
    • Mount Vernon
  • Historical societies


  • Gain experience through volunteering or completing an internship.
  • Supplement curriculum with courses in business, psychology, sociology, or social work.
  • Obtain leadership roles in relevant campus and community organizations.
  • Develop strong communication and research skills.
  • Learn how to write grants.
  • Research organizations’ values to find a good fit with yours. It is critical that you are knowledgeable about and committed to the work you’re going to do.
  • Investigate term of service or service corps positions as a way to gain entry into the field.
  • Earn a graduate degree for more job opportunities and advancement.



  • Public affairs
  • Writing/Editing
  • Audiovisual producing

  • Museum work
  • Curating
  • Development


  • State arts agencies
  • Local, state, and national councils for the arts
  • Historical commissions

  • Museums/Galleries:
    • Smithsonian Institute
    • The National Gallery Film boards
  • Libraries and archives
  • Endowments/Grant making agencies
  • Cultural affairs agencies


  • Maintain a strong grade point average as many government programs are very competitive.
  • Complete an internship with the federal government.
  • There are a large number of specialized agencies within the federal government. Do extensive research to find the area that best fits your interests.
  • Earn a graduate degree for advancement.
  • Become familiar with the government application process. Utilize applicable websites and seek assistance from your college career center.
  • Develop a network of contacts through informational interviews and referrals.



  • Management
  • Sales
  • Public relations
  • Market research

  • Creative design
  • Art insurance adjuster
  • Art economist


  • Product and service organizations
  • Retail stores
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants

  • Wholesalers
  • Manufacturers (e.g., commercial art)
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Insurance companies

  • Real estate agencies
  • Consulting firms
  • Other business corporations


  • Develop strong analytical, verbal, and writing skills.
  • Acquire a business minor or add business as a double major.
  • Gain experience in an area of interest through internships or other employment.
  • Obtain leadership roles in campus organizations.
  • Demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Hone computer skills and learn software packages for databases, spreadsheets, and presentations.
  • Be prepared to start in entry level positions, such as management trainee programs.

General Information

  • A bachelor’s degree in art history is valuable for entry-level positions, but an advanced degree is usually necessary to attain competitive, upper-level positions in museums and historical sites.
  • Explore more specific careers related to art history such as art appraisal or art authentication. Careers also exist with auction houses and the storage and transportation of art work, art investment, corporate curation, art law, and law enforcement.
  • Develop career goals and then gain the necessary education, skills, and experiences to achieve them.
  • Gain as much relevant experience as possible through volunteer positions and internships.
  • Be prepared to relocate to the larger markets of metropolitan areas where more opportunities exist.
  • Join art-related professional and student organizations.
  • Develop skills in business management, computers, marketing, and other related areas to increase marketability.
  • Gain experience in fundraising and grant writing techniques. Often research and nonprofit organizations must be funded in this manner.
  • Seek exposure to art by visiting museums around the country and world. Learn about world history, cultures, and languages.
  • Conduct informational interviews with professionals in areas of interest to learn more about opportunities and strategies for these areas. Learn to network.