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The Department of Art & Art History


The Department’s overall mission is to provide education, training, and mentoring in the disciplines of art, design, and art history to empower students to discover a meaningful life and a successful career in the arts.

The Department of Art & Art History aims to provide our majors and minors with a dynamic, open, and academically rigorous learning environment for the study of global art practice in both art history and studio art. The focus of the studio art training is in art teaching, arts technology, book arts, ceramics, graphic design, illustration, painting and drawing, photography and digital imaging, printmaking, and sculpture intermedia.

We believe that we provide our students with life-changing experiences that have lasting benefits. We honor and develop the natural talents of our students and give them the tools to look critically at the world and express their views visually, verbally, and in writing.

To successfully achieve these goals, we hold faculty and students to a level of excellence in interdisciplinary scholarly and creative research, learning, and service, as well as affording opportunities for professional growth for all. The department strives to be a full participant and leader in the mission and goals of Utah's flagship university.


In 1869, the University of Deseret offered its first class in drawing, and George Ottinger arrived in 1882 to supervise drawing courses taught by visiting instructors. In 1888, an art department was approved to offer a four-year program focusing on drawing, oil painting, and life drawing. By 1892, the University of Deseret reformed as the University of Utah, and within the University, the School of Art and Sciences was formed in 1901. The school contained a new art department, reformed from the previous art department. The School of Fine Arts made its first appearance in 1947 and was renamed in 1948 as the College of Fine Arts. Art degrees were offered, either a BA or a BS, at the end of a four-year program. An MFA in Art was first offered in 1948, and a Masters of Art in Art History was first offered in 1969-1970. A complex of four buildings, the Art and Architecture Center, was completed in 1970 to juxtapose related areas of art, art history, architecture, and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. The art history area was approved in 1995 as a University Program. In 1996, the department successfully petitioned for a name change to Department of Art & Art History to reflect more precisely the distinct identities of the Art History Program and the Studio Art emphasis areas: Art Teaching, Ceramics, Graphic Design, Illustration, Painting and Drawing, Photography and Digital Imaging, Printmaking, and Sculpture Intermedia.