Learn more about art history opportunities

Art history, a broad intellectual discipline, is central to the humanities. It examines how nations, individuals, and ethnic populations express and contest their social, political, and religious values in visual media. For this reason, the history of art is the ideal lens through which to examine history, economics, religion, politics, literature, and many other aspects of the humanities and social sciences.   

Art history faculty members take a global and multicultural perspective to studying images and objects. Their principal mission is to help students develop skills for exploring art and visual culture as instruments of knowledge and human expression throughout history and in the contemporary environment.

Because the BA in art history stresses the development of critical visual thinking, close reading, and academic writing, coursework in art history prepares students for graduate work in the humanities, professional degrees in law and business, and careers in museums and the art world.

Visiting speakers in art history

  • 2024

    "Made to be Seen: Kongo Graphic Writing as a Basis for Rethinking the Transmission of Knowledge" Lecture by Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz, Indiana University

  • 2023

    “Pop and the People: Re-Thinking Wang Guangyi's Great Criticism Series” Lecture by Peggy Wang”

    “Japanese vs. Chinese visual propaganda during the 2nd Sino-Japanese War” Lecture by Shaoqian Zhang

    "Gilgamesh Dream Tablet" Lecture by Neil Brodie, University of Oxford

    "Who's on Top: Augustus and the Roman Commemorative Arch" Lecture by Diane Favro, UCLA emerita

    "License to Sell: The Legal Trade of Antiquities" Lecture by 
    Morag Kersel, DePaul University

    ""He is Remarkable for...wearing a Handkerchief tied round his Head": Resistance as Escape and Cultural Retention in the Canadian Fugitive Slave Archive" Lecture by Charmaine A. Nelson, University of Massachusetts Amherst

    "Greek Antiquities as Diplomatic Gifts in Greek-U.S. Political Relationships after World War II" Lecture by Athanasio (Nassos) Papalexandrou, University of Texas at Austin

    "Pop and the People: Re-thinking Wang Guangyi’s Great Criticism series" Lecture by Peggy Wang, Bowdoin College


  • 2022

    “A Chinese Geo-Narrative Painting at the Stanley Museum of Art” Lecture by Elizabeth Kindall

    “Imitation, simulacra, and miniature” in East Asian art Lecture by Kristina Kleutghen

    "Unsettling Representations of Indigenous Peoples in Colonial Mexico" Lecture by Savannah Esquivel, University of California, Riverside

    "Ways of Looking at Early Modern Bird's Eye Views" Lecture by Mark Rosen, University of Texas Dallas


  • 2021

    Ink Painting Demonstration by Truc Deegan

    "Authenticity and Polychromy on Ancient Roman Sculpture" Lecture by Mark Abbe, University of Georgia

    "Q&A for his book, The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution" Lecture by Dan Hicks, University of Oxford and the Pitts River Museum

    "Fakes: The Museum Curator's Perspective" Lecture by Claire Kovacs, University of Binghamton

    "Obas and Olokun: The Royal Art of the Kingdom of Benin" Lecture by Lynne Larsen, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

    "Q&A for her book, Shaky Ground: Context, Connoisseurship, and the History of Roman Art" Lecture by Elizabeth Marlowe: Colgate University

    "Ludovico ‘The Moor’ and the Representation of Africans in Renaissance Italian Courts" Lecture by Timothy McCall, Villanova University


  • 2020

    “37 Heavens and 32 Hells: Curses and Blessings Carved in Relief” Lecture by Soumya James

    “The Spirit of the Letter: Reproducing Yan Zhenqing's Imperial Commissioner Liu Letter” Lecture by Amy McNair

    "Leonardo da Vinci in the 21st Century: Scholarship, Hype, and the Art Market" Lecture by Stephen Campbell, Johns Hopkins University

    'Marvel at the Noise, the fragrant work!' Building in Ancient Rome Lecture by Diane Favro, UCLA

    "Contemporary Native American Art" Lecture by Craig Howe, Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies

    Wanda Corn, Stanford University Emerita


  • 2019

    "Renaissance Decoration of the Ducal Palace in Venice" Lecture by Giorgio Tagliaferro, University of Warwick

    Amy Werthen, Des Moines Art Center 

  • 2018

    Stephane Guegan, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

    Sheryl Reiss, Newberry Library 

  • 2017

    "Finding Aphrodite at Petra: The Petra North Ridge Project" Lecture by S. Thomas Parker, North Carolina State University


  • 2016

    "From Constantinople to Moscow: Geopolitical Landscapes of Capital Cities in Medieval Eastern Europe" Lecture by Jelena Bogdanovic, Iowa State University

    "The Invention of Happiness: Painting History in the Age of the Enlightenment" Lecture by Susanna Caviglia, University of Limoges and the University of Chicago

    "Egyptomania and Isis in Flavian Pompeii" Lecure by Lauren Hackworth Petersen, University of Delaware


  • 2015

    "Recent Excavations at Sardis, City of Croesus" lecture by Nicholas Cahill, University of Wisconsin Madison

    "Family Affairs: A New Interpretation of the Porticus of Octavia in Augustan Rome" Lecture by Barbara Kellum, Smith College

    Louis Nelson, University of Virginia

    Evonne Levy, University of Toronto

  • 2014

    “Contemplating an Empire: Greek Artistic Responses to the Neo-Assyrian World"
    Lecture by Ann Gunter, Northwestern University

    “Isle of Druids & Celtic Warriors? Britain on the Eve of Roman Invasion"
    AIA lecture by Simon James, Leicester University

    “Thick Sections: A History of Gas Works Park by Richard Haag”
    Lecture by Thaisa Way, University of Washington

    “Between Babylon, Rome, and Judaea: Gardens and Quotation at the Palaces of Herod the Great”
    Lecture by Rabun Taylor, University of Texas at Austin

  • 2013

    “Rembrandt and Dou: Rivalry in Self-Portrayal”
    Lecture by Perry Chapman, University of Delaware

    “Individuality and Innovation in Ancient Greek Sculpture"
    AIA lecture by Andrew Stewart, University of California Berkeley

    "The Art of Provenance Research: WWII-era Research Projects at the Smithsonian Institution"
    Lecture by Jane Milosch, Smithsonian

  • 2012

    "Refashioning Josephine: Female Political Agency in Napoleonic France"
    Lecture by Susan Taylor Leduc, Trinity College, Paris

    "Bernini's Terracotta Sketches and the Fire of Art"
    Lecture by Steven Ostrow, University of Minnesota

    "Images of Rule in the Age of Revolution: Napoleon Bonaparte and Antonio Canova"
    Lecture by Christopher Johns, Vanderbilt University

    "Josephine at Malmaison"
    Lecture by Bernard Chevallier, Musee National des Chateaux de Malmaison Bois-Preau

    "Popular and Profane Experiences with the Sublime: The Temple as a Social and Cultural Focus in Egypt"
    AIA lecture by Lanny Bell, Brown University

    "The Appropriation of Egypt in Ancient Italy"
    Lecture by Maria Swetnam-Burland, William and Mary College

    "Nature's Therapy-Healing Gardens in Medical Facilities"
    Lecture by Reuben Rainey, University of Virginia

    "Science and Phantasmagoria in the Twilight of Enlightenment"
    Lecture by Martial Guedron, Université de Strasbourg

    "Why Archaeology Matters: The Case of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls"
    AIA lecture by Robert Cargill, University of Iowa

  • 2011

    "A Tale of Two Bronze Age Shipwrecks”
    AIA lecture by Roger Williamson, M.D., University of Iowa

    "Exoticism and Dutch Culture in a Global Context, 1600-1650"
    Lecture by Claudia Swan, Northwestern University

    "Ancient Rome and South Asia: Commercial and Cultural Exchanges"
    Lecture by Sethuraman Suresh, Fulbright Senior Research Fellow, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, D.C.

    "The Archaeological Exploration of Sikyon: A Comprehensive Approach to the Study of a Greek City-State"
    AIA lecture by Yannis Lolos, University of Thessaly

    "Interpretations of the Past: The Roman Forum from Antiquity to the Present Day"
    Lecture by David Watkin, University of Cambridge

    "Good Humor: Caricature and Satire in the Metropolitan Museum of Art"
    UIMA lecture by Nadine Orenstein, Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • 2010

    "Land of Unfinished Monuments: The Ruins-in-Reverse of Nineteenth-Century America"
    AIA lecture by Nicholas Yablon, University of Iowa

    "Financing Urban Redevelopment in 17th-century Rome: The Case of Stefano's Proposal for Piazza Colonna"
    Lecture by Dorothy Metzger Habel, University of Tennessee

    "Papal Museums and 'National' Patrimony: The Origins of Modern Cultural Consciousness in Eighteenth-Century Rome"
    Lecture by Christopher Johns, Vanderbilt University

    "Highways to Heaven (and Hell): Wayside Crosses and the Making of Late Medieval Landscape"
    Lecture by Achim Timmermann, University of Michigan

    "Imports, Heirlooms and Second-hand Goods: New Perspectives on Domestic Sculpture in Pompeii"
    Lecture by Jessica Powers, San Antonio Museum of Art

    "Technological Innovation in Imperial Rome: What Can Ancient Concrete Tell Us about Roman Society?"
    AIA lecture by Lynne Lancaster, Ohio University

    "The Rich Tomb of an Etruscan Lady in the Metropolitan Museum of Art"
    Lecture by Richard De Puma, University of Iowa

    "Caesar's Crown"
    Lecture by Michael Koortbojian, Princeton University

    "If the axle breaks, what is left of their bodies? Construction Traffic in Ancient Rome"
    Lecture by Diane Favro, University of California Los Angeles

    "The Alhambra: Real and Imagined”
    Lecture by D. Fairchild Ruggles, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

  • 2009

    "Henry Ossawa Tanner: An International Retrospective-An Exhibition in Progress"
    Lecture by Anna Marley, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

    "Making the Mummies Dance from Space"
    AIA lecture by Sarah Helen Parcak, University of Alabama at Birmingham

    "Is this our Princeps? Reflections on an unusual Augustan head in Cedar Rapids"
    Lecture by Richard De Puma, University of Iowa

    "Identity and Architecture: Iowa and the Prairie Schools"
    Lecture by Richard Guy Wilson, University of Virginia

    "From Buffon to Cuvier: Black Bodies in the French Visual Arts"
    Lecture by Anne LaFont, Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art, Paris

    "Why Art? The Cultural Response to Hurricane Katrina"
    Lecture by David Houston, Ogden Museum of Southern Art

    "Arnold Böcklin Mountains. Art in the Age of Psychology"
    Lecture by Hubertus Kohle, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

    "The Reuse of Statues in Ancient Roman Fountains"
    AIA lecture by Brenda Longfellow, University of Iowa

    "Building Fascist Bodies"
    Lecture by Professor Terry Kirk, American University in Rome


Dorothy Johnson is the Roy J. Carver Professor of Art History in the School of Art and Art History.

Dorothy Johnson

Roy J. Carver Professor of Art History
Division Head, Art History

Art history faculty

Björn Anderson

Björn Anderson

Associate Professor
headshot image of Rob Bork

Robert Bork

Director of Graduate Studies, Art History
Amy Huang is Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Art History in the School of Art and Art History.

Amy Huang

Assistant Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies - Art History
Anna Isbell in Italy

Anna Isbell

Dorothy Johnson is the Roy J. Carver Professor of Art History in the School of Art and Art History.

Dorothy Johnson

Roy J. Carver Professor of Art History
Division Head, Art History
Portrait of Joni Kinsey

Joni Kinsey

Portrait of Brenda Longfellow

Brenda Longfellow

Roger A. Hornsby Associate Professor in the Classics