The Art History program at The American University of Rome offers its students exceptional opportunities to study the artistic and cultural legacy of Rome and Italy and to relate the artistic works of previous epochs to the contemporary, global art world. Rome’s rich history and extensive tradition of groundbreaking art and artists spans classical antiquity through the modern age. Consequently, this city is the ideal destination for students interested in studying art and art history.
Why study Art History at AUR
From the Roman Forum to the Sistine Chapel to the MAXXI Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome houses countless art treasures that all have an important place in the history of art. Students who pursue this major go beyond textbooks to come face to face with these masterpieces in galleries and museums – many of which are just a stone’s throw from the university – as part of our regular on-site classes.
The program in Art History combines the comparative method and critical approach typical of American curricula with an intense immersion in one of the greatest art centers in the world: the city of Rome. Coursework at all levels emphasizes on-site observation and analysis and the use of Rome’s unique resources for individual study and research.
Upon completion of the degree, students will find their connoisseurship, critical thinking and cross-cultural understanding to be highly transferable, enabling them to continue to careers in which they can make valuable contributions to the analysis, research and preservation of material heritage from across the ages.
Field Study Trips for credit
The Art History Program organizes day trips and weekend excursions in connection with its courses. Recent trips include:
- Florence and Venice to study Renaissance art.
- Sant'Agnese fuori le mura (the church of Saint Agnes Outside the Walls), St’Ignazio, and the Pantheon studying Sacred Spaces.
- The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum, Santa Maria Aracoeli, and San Giorgio in Velabro.
- A private showing of the Galleria Borghese.
- The Villa of Livia at the National Museum of Rome, Palazzo Massimo.
- The MAXXI museum for a private showing of a new exhibition.
- Nice, in the south of France, examining on the work of Picasso, Matisse and Chagall.
Art History student Anastasia V. undertook an internship at the RvB Art Gallery in Rome.
RvB Arts is a dynamic, Rome-based gallery that specializes in the scouting and promotion of young, emerging Italian artists. Increasingly popular with clients and collectors and with a strong narrative bent, RvB Arts was recently named one of the top ten contemporary art galleries to visit in Rome.
"My internship was an amazing opportunity to be immersed in the contemporary art scene in Rome. I was immediately thrown into the hustle of exhibition organisation - from unpacking the artworks to positioning and hanging - following the plan of the artist. There was not a day without some communication with customers, artists, or co-workers and each time it was different - I came away with a really good all-round view of what Gallery management was really all about!"
Beyond the classroom & campus
"We explore the greatest theatre of antiquity, the Colosseum; the center of ancient market life, the Market of Trajan; as well as the most incredible of the temples dating from 2000 years ago, the Pantheon. We visit the earliest churches built in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine and the first basilica dedicated by a pope to the Virgin Mary. We look at the masterpieces of Renaissance artists Raphael and Michelangelo in the Vatican Museum and in the Roman palaces and piazze, and we study the most dramatic paintings by the great genius of Caravaggio" Professor Claudia La Malfa.
Griffin Evans, AUR's first Art History graduate, talks about his experiences.
Griffin Evans graduated from AUR in 2005 with a BA in Art History - the first AUR student to do so. Griffin transferred to Rome from Boston, and soon after graduating, he trained to be a lawyer.
"I remember how the professors would take us on the train to Florence, we would go and see Michelangelo’s David in the morning and be back in Rome for dinner in the evening… It was just amazing. Many of my friends who went to Ivy League schools couldn’t match that experience – there’s no comparison. You wish everyone could come and do it"
"A lot of the instincts that I learned from living in such a historic culture as Rome I now apply in my legal practice. I often represent parents in scenarios that are emotional, highly contentious, and bitter. I have to convince the judge of their humanity. I feel that my European roots and education in Italy really helped me to be able to formulate those thoughts and convey them accurately to a judge. "
The visual arts and culture industries have become an increasingly significant part of the international economy, and our art history graduates leave AUR with the skills to take advantage of the myriad opportunities within this growing sector.
Careers that are directly linked to this degree include museums and galleries, auction houses, education, marketing and advertising, and anything connected with visual media. Our degree also prepares students to manage their own galleries, to work as industry-specialist lawyers and PR agents, and for positions in charities, fashion and publishing.
Lara K. - 2016
Gallery Management in Philadelphia
Tara F. - 2019
Marketing Manager in London
Brian T. 2020
Graduate Studies in Florida
Alysia D. - 2018
PR Management in New York
Carolyn Q. - 2017
Auctions & Appraisals in California
Sophia T. - 2020
Graduate Studies in Chicago
- Ancient Material Culture
- Ways of Seeing
- Painting Techniques I
- Digital Design: Print Graphics
- Ancient to Baroque
- Conservation and Restoration: Ethics and Principles
- Painting Techniques II
- The Making of Art: History of Art Materials
- Methods and Theory of Art History: Seminar on Methodology
- Art Gallery Management
- Art, Power, and Propaganda
- Picasso and His Contemporaries in the South of France
- Traffickers, Thieves and Forgers: Art Crime
- Contemporary Art in the Global Village
- New Perspectives: Visual Technology in Renaissance and Baroque Art
- The Art of War
- The Decorative Arts and Female Gaze
- Museology and Curatorship
- Renaissance Florence
- Ancient North Africa: the Archaeology and Art History of the Other Side of the Mediterranean
Selected Art History course details
PICASSO AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
This one credit on-site course based in Nice examines on the work of Picasso, Matisse and Chagall and the link between the artists and the influence of the environment of the Cote d’Azur.
MUSEOLOGY AND CURATORSHIP
Students will examine the role of the curator in relationship to a museum’s mission, and how technology is changing the way in which museums fulfill their curatorial responsibilities.
ART, POWER, AND PROPAGANDA
A seminar-style investigation approaches themes of art and propaganda as they were developed in a limited range of 20th-century political climates, particularly Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.
THE RENAISSANCE IN ROME
Exploring the unique artistic culture of Renaissance Rome. The course covers the period from the return of the papacy to Rome after the Council of Constance (1420) to the Sack of Rome by Imperial troops in 1527 and its immediate aftermath.
THE LURE OF NAPLES
This course focuses on the history of the forming of important collections of ancient, Renaissance, and Baroque art, in particular the Archaeological Museum of Naples and the Capodimonte Museum, and the impact of the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
CONTEMPORARY ART IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE
The scope of the course is overtly multicultural comparing and contrasting ethnic approaches. The course finishes with the students organizing their own virtual exhibition of contemporary art.
New Perspectives: New Technology in Renaissance and Baroque Art with Professor Jason Cardone
"Studying how Renaissance artists created their works and the techniques they used, gives us the chance, you could say, to enter practically into their minds and get closer to the world they inhabited." — Professor Cardone
AUR's Art History faculty are steeped in the history and culture of Rome & Italy. All are enviable scholars and practitioners who continue to lead in their respective fields of expertise.
A world-renowned expert in Neo-Latin poetry. Professor Gwynne's research focuses on Italian art and culture, particularly in the periods of the Renaissance and Counter-Reformation. His most recent publications include Patterns of Patronage in Renaissance Rome: Francesco Sperulo, Poet, Prelate, Soldier, Spy (2015); Francesco Benci and the Rise of Neo-Latin Epic (2018).
Dr. Canziani was the founding co-director of Nomas Foundation in Rome from 2009-2016. The center (its name means 'nomad' in Latin) features research and production of contemporary art and has an internationally renowned program of exhibits, lectures and residencies.
Professor Borghese’s continuing exploration of the city of Rome nourishes her research and her teaching, that is conducted mostly on-site to give students the opportunity to experience first-hand the emotion of discovering masterpieces at the center of Western Civilization.
Course requirements and further detail
For more in-depth information about this program and individual course requirements, please see our full catalog.