Art History

Visit Carleton! Book your tour today.

Program Details

Historians of art and architecture study visual communication. In Carleton’s Art History program, we study the great monuments of Western culture — painting, sculpture and buildings — but we also study Asian and other non-Western art, North American Indigenous art, photography, printmaking and popular culture, as well as the institutions of art itself: museums, galleries and exhibitions.

Our material ranges from the prehistoric to the present day. Our students come away from the program with direct experience of collections of art here in the National Capital Region and a historical framework for understanding imagery, as well as an awareness of the multiple possibilities for interpreting art, architecture and other visual phenomena.

Specifically, we examine how representations work. We analyze the products of the human imagination and the visual expressions of different societies. Such analyses produce a historical awareness, as well as an understanding of modes of expression in different cultures. This knowledge provides students with the intellectual tools that allow them to function as informed and thoughtful individuals in an increasingly visual and globalized society.

Capital Advantage

Studying Art History in Ottawa will give you access to rich cultural institutions including the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History, the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Carleton University Art Gallery, and Library and Archives Canada.

Work Experience

Our successful internship program builds professional experience through work in art galleries, museums and other cultural institutions. Examples include the National Gallery of Canada, and Library and Archives Canada. You can also study abroad and visit cities such as Venice or Istanbul.

Carleton360 Logo

Get started in Carleton360 to receive tailored information on our programs, student services and community.

A student looking at art in the Carleton University Art Gallery.

Career Outcomes

Explore your passions, refine new skills and discover the career that’s right for you.

Carleton’s Art History program can lead to a career in fields such as government, public or private sector, education and higher education, museums and archival work, art consultation, restoration and conservation, and arts journalism.

Two students working at a table with a laptop and an Art History textbook.

Sample Courses

ARTH 1101 - Art and Society: 1300 to the Present

A survey of art, architecture and related visual forms in their expanding contexts from 1300 to the present. Ways of understanding visual culture through this span of history.

ARTH 3108 - History and Methods of Art History

The study of current methodologies and research tools employed by art historians.

Visit the Undergraduate Calendar to view a comprehensive list of course offerings for this program and discover the exciting things Carleton students are learning in the classroom!

View more courses for this program


Having previously worked at the National Gallery of Canada as an interpreter, Taylor Simard saw another side of the gallery through her practicum with Christopher Etheridge, Associate Curator of European and American Art. Simard helped rearrange a file on Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley. Full of images, exhibition catalogues and writings about the artist’s work, these files also included private documents that the public never gets to view, such as personal correspondence. In her practicum at the Canada Council Art Bank, Simard was the curator of a travelling art exhibition in partnership with the Manitoba Art Network. Simard says she got to see the professional, behind-the-scenes part of art curation, which gave her an important chance to decide if the field would be right for her someday.

Taylor, Art History and Humanities graduate
Art History and Humanities graduate