Art History and Museum Studies Expansion

Nov 15, 2019

by Salma Nawlo
Assistant Director of Communications

Florida Southern College’s recent partnership with the Polk Museum of Art has naturally led to an important expansion of opportunities for students and faculty: the chance to incorporate more real-world and career-oriented experiences through the Museum and the art objects housed within it.

Dr. Rich with his art history class students at the Polk Museum of Art.
Dr. Rich with his art history class students at the Polk Museum of Art.

The art history department has been renamed as the Department of Art History and Museum Studies and now offers an exciting new B.A. in Art History and Museum Studies. The major is designed specifically for students with broad interests in the art historical, museum, or non-profit fields, including for those who see futures in the fine arts and academia, science and history centers, and arts management and administration.

“By virtue of FSC's having its own Smithsonian-affiliated academic museum and our program's being housed physically inside of that museum, students entering the program have the rare opportunity as undergraduates to be immersed from day one in the inner-workings of the museum world,” said Dr. Alex Rich, Chair of the Department and Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Polk Museum of Art.

Indeed, the curriculum emphasizes direct study with art objects and with museum experts in the space of the College’s academic museum, allowing for deep engagement in the real professional worlds of art, museums, and non-profits and for the enhancement of skills like visual discernment, writing proficiency, and verbal expression fundamental to art historical analysis.

“Students will get to couple their classroom coursework with close study of actual works of art and artifacts,” Rich said. “They will intern and gain incomparable hands-on expertise working alongside museum and non-profit professionals.”

With individualized career path options, internships, and museum studies classes that embed majors in the daily life of museums and non-profits, the Art History and Museum Studies program offers a flexible curriculum that caters to each student’s career goals, providing appropriate preparation for graduate school and for entry into the job market along many possible career tracks, from occupations in museums, galleries, conservation, science and history centers, and arts administration to business management, art law, education, journalism, and beyond.

Matt Belcher (center) helping examine artworks behind the scene at the PMoA.
Preparator & Design Manager Matt Belcher (center) helping examine artworks behind the scene at the PMoA.

“Especially with our Career Path options, students can design the program to fit their long-term goals, be that working art historically in academia, curation, and conservation or in the larger fields of non-profit management, history, communications, marketing, or even retail,” said Rich.

The Art History and Museum Studies Program gives students the academic and technical expertise required for entering careers in the field; for majors and minors, the program aims to lay the intellectual groundwork both for students seeking a traditional and well-rounded academic art history course of study and for students seeking to learn about the inner-workings and importance of museums and to experience in a hands-on manner the real-world applications of their classroom studies within the sphere of the College’s own non-profit business.