What can I do with a degree in Art History and Theory?
Art History and Theory involves the study of visual culture, and the institutions and practices, such as collecting, patronage, art education, art criticism and iconography, that support them.
Through their Art History and Theory degree, graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:
- Highly developed skills in visual analysis and interpretation
- Knowledge of history, literature, philosophy, and religion as it relates to works of art and architecture
- Interpretive and analytical thinking
- Understanding of the influences on contemporary society
- Thinking critically and creatively, and challenging received ideas
- Logical and qualitative thinking
- Problem solving skills
- Oral and written communication
- Research and computing skills.
Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available, for example undertaking an internship can deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge and employability.
Career destinations related to Art History and Theory include organisations and sectors such as:
- Art galleries
- Governance and policy
- Arts management
- Fine arts auctioneers
- Archives and libraries
- Heritage and conservation
- Journalism, media and public relations
- Event management
- Tertiary sector
- Marketing and advertising
- Tech industry and start-ups
- Databases and image libraries.
Career possibilities are diverse. Recent UC graduates are found in a variety of organisations ranging from: art galleries to government departments, insurance to legal services, art suppliers to power companies, libraries to schools, alumni relations to health boards.
Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs — see examples below with key tasks.
Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.
- Designs and coordinates exhibitions
- Manages collections
- Conducts research and communicates information
Art gallery manager / director / assistant
- Assesses and selects art
- Plans and presents exhibitions, events, seminars, outreach activity
- Works with artists and negotiates purchases
Librarian, library assistant
- Categorises and catalogues library materials
- Selects materials for library use
- Helps customers find and use materials
Policy analyst / advisor
- Identifies and investigates issues and opportunities eg, in society, law or governance
- Interprets existing policies and briefs leaders
- Prepares reports and recommends changes
- Proofreads material and coordinates changes
- Adds elements in production eg, graphics
- Answers publication queries
- Develops learning resources or courses
- Uses technology to deliver training
- Advises how to develop skills or plan studies
Secondary school teacher
- Plans and delivers instructional lessons
- Evaluates performance and provides feedback
- Sets and marks assignments and tests
Digital content analyst
- Develops a brand’s digital marketing strategy
- Increases web traffic and online engagement
- Oversees social media and search optimisation
Manager, project manager
- Oversees the effective use of resources
- Responsible for certain aspects or overall operation of an organisation, unit or project
- Plans, budgets, supervises, instigates, solves
Marketing assistant / associate
- Collects and analyses market insight
- Prepares and implements marketing plans
- Works with others to promote goods or services
- Identifies and develops new markets or business
- Manages client relationships and presentations
- Implements sales and marketing strategies
Arts administrator / manager
- Manages logistics, budgets, schedules for events, venues, managers
- Contributes to marketing materials and media
- Develops new projects and initiatives
Research officer / assistant
- Organises and conducts research
- Develops and tests theories, interprets results
- Writes reports and publishes research
- Administers data infrastructure
- Maintains an organisation’s database
- Provides analytical support to others
Entrepreneur and CEO
- Develops an idea to form their own business
- Gets involved in a start-up
- Offers services as a freelancer/consultant
Get started with Entrepreneurship here.
As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others in a community.
- The Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ)
- The New Zealand Art History Teachers’ Association
Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.
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