History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture

Students at the National Gallery of Canada

The Department of Art & Design offers students rigorous courses of study leading to master's and doctoral degrees in the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture. The program emphasizes critical and imaginative thinking about the ways the world is mediated by technologies of vision, images, objects, and visual events. Work in the classroom and museum is designed to interrogate multiple forms of modernity, develop fluency in critical theory, intensify perception into inter-cultural visualities, and create knowledge about the global flow of material things and ideas. It prepares students for curatorial work, cultural journalism, teaching, as well as work in heritage programs and research-intensive fields.

Students have written theses about:

  • science and ink painting in modern Beijing
  • Argentine portraiture in an age of Peronism
  • art and activism during the "obesity epidemic"
  • surrealism in Polish modern art
  • the display of installation art in the 21st century
  • the question of how children were taught to see at 19th-century world's fairs
  • Cold War "Democratic Design" in the U.S.A and the German Democratic Republic (1945-1970)

Professors are committed to exploring new modes of conducting and representing research and to fostering new arenas for sharing and expanding student research across the arts. Please visit the department's Research Centres & Forums webpage for more information.

The Department of Art & Design offers graduate degrees in the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture that can include research-creation methods and outputs. Research-creation applicants must have a strong commitment to history and theory, in addition to practice. Students interested in pursuing a research-creation option as a part of their MA or PhD in the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture must present a research proposal grounded (at least in part) in the methods and outcomes relevant to art history, theory, and criticism.

Prospective students are welcome to contact individual professors to learn more about the particular strengths of the department. Please consult individual faculty web pages for more information about faculty specializations and research interests.

Graduate study is supported by excellent research collections, among them the Mactaggart Art Collection of Chinese paintings and textiles, the Print Study Centre, the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, and the Rawlinson Rare Medical Books Collection.

Financial support is available to students in the form of scholarships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships.

Professor Natalie Loveless speaking with Donna Haraway, keynote speaker for a 'Think Tank' on Research Creation in the Fine Arts