WHY STUDY ART HISTORY AT MBC?
Personal Contact and Individualized Attention
The art history major offers personal contact with professors that is often missing in university settings. There is the opportunity to develop a mentor relationship at the undergraduate level. Art history majors benefit from personal and individualized instruction in small classes taught by professors with doctoral training and experience in teaching.
Collaboration with Studio Art
Art history and studio art are in the same department and same building. This sense of community allows students who study art history to have exposure to those who make art. There is a communicative interchange: students and faculty in both areas work together. Practice, study, and theory are integrated. This important interrelationship does not happen at large universities, where departments are separated and areas are often in several different buildings.
Travel and Study Abroad
Art history majors have the opportunity to study art first hand in museums and major centers of art and art history in the United States and abroad with an art history professional. Students can study art on site in Italy in their junior or senior year with an art history professional. The art history faculty offers a variety of study abroad trips, some of which at the introductory level are interdisciplinary and others, at the upper level, are solely focused on art. The small group size on the travel and study abroad opportunities facilitates flexibility and individualized teaching.
Many opportunities exist in Staunton for internships at museums, art centers, the Historic Staunton Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, and other historic landmarks. The art history faculty maintains good working relationships with local museum professionals of which there are many, especially for a small town. One recent project included working with an art restoration professional to clean and preserve gravestones in the cemetery at Historic Trinity Church. Internships also can be arranged in other cities. Mary Baldwin students have interned at Southeby’s, the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, and the Virginia Museum in Richmond.
The Senior Project
Students work closely with the faculty to produce a 20-page research paper. Often the project involves original ideas and extensive research, sometimes using local archives. The faculty stresses high quality writing, theory, and sophisticated research. Students defend the paper before a faculty committee. The project not only builds a student’s portfolio, but she gains confidence in speaking before a group and discussing her ideas. Their polished paper is a fine tool for entry into graduate school or as a showpiece of their work for jobs in museums and other institutions that stress writing and research.