Studying Art History doesn’t just mean looking at paintings and sculptures (although we do a lot of that): art historians study anything that was made at least partly to be looked at – anything with an aesthetic side to it. Teapots, churches, jewellery, wallpaper, gardens, adverts, gravestones, spoons, temples, picture frames, coins, graffiti, wall paintings, plates, fans, printed books, clothes, gargoyles, houses, pottery, illuminated manuscripts, palaces, candlesticks, museum design… all of these can be and are studied by an art historian.
We study these objects in their historical and cultural contexts, and ask a lot of questions. The most important question an art historian asks is: why does this object (be it a painting, sculpture, building, or something else) look the way it does and have the impact that it does?
The History of Art Department forms part of the Faculty of Architecture and History of Art, situated at nos. 1-5 Scroope Terrace in Trumpington Street, Cambridge, where it has a lecture room, seminar room and supervision rooms. It has additional accommodation in the building opposite, 4a Trumpington Street, the graduate centre of the Faculty, above the famous Hot Numbers café. The Faculty has a well-stocked library with over 35,000 volumes, including many rare books. But as a History of Art student you will also be out working in one of Cambridge’s over 100 libraries, or analysing artworks and architecture at Cambridge’s seven museums, as well as its wide range of college art collections.