Fields of Study

Ancient Art

The department affords students of ancient art the opportunity to work with a faculty that includes experts in the art and architecture of the ancient Mediterranean, Near East, and Americas. Students benefit from the close and long-standing relationship with the departments of Classics and Near Eastern Studies. Facilities of special relevance to students of ancient art include the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, located on campus inside Gilman Hall, and the extraordinary holdings of the Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art.


Ever since its founding in 1947, the department has given special emphasis to the study of medieval art, and that tradition continues with a new generation of medievalists bringing expertise in Early Christian, Islamic, Byzantine, Mediterranean, and Italian Romanesque art and architecture to the program. Students avail themselves of local expertise through the departments of history, English, and German and romance languages and literatures, and frequently consult with curators at the Walters Art Museum, several of whom participate as adjunct faculty. Hopkins students may take the seminars in Byzantine art offered each year at Dumbarton Oaks, and take advantage of the extensive research library there as well. The extraordinary collections at the Walters Art Museum and at Dumbarton Oaks are especially valuable for students interested in manuscript illumination and the minor arts.

Renaissance/Early Modern

Another signature strength of the history of art department is its program in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe, where a broad faculty expertise encompasses the art and culture of Italy, Spain, and the countries of northern Europe from the 14th to the 17th centuries. Graduate students in these areas participate in the programs of the Charles Singleton Center for the Study of Pre-Modern Europe, which sponsors collaborative research abroad and brings a steady stream of world-class lecturers to Baltimore. Students also benefit from the excellent collections of Italian and northern Renaissance art at the Walters Art Museum, the National Gallery, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


At Hopkins a diverse and challenging curriculum in modern art and criticism is offered by a research faculty of international prominence, supplemented by occasional visiting scholars and museum curators. European art from the 18th to the 21st century, American modernism, and modern art in Asia are all among the department’s distinctive strengths. Students oriented toward the study of criticism and aesthetic theory can also broaden their perspective and develop their critical skills by taking courses offered through the Department of Comparative Thought and Literature and the Department of Philosophy. Distinctive collections at the Baltimore Museum of Art and at multiple places in Washington, D.C., (the Hirshhorn Museum, the National Museum of American Art, the Freer/Sackler of the Smithsonian, the Phillips Collection, and others) provide unparalleled resources for students of modern art at all levels.