The Institute of Art History: mission and concept

The Institute of Art History at the University of Bern teaches and researches the full range of European and North American art from the early Christian era to the present, including contemporary art in its global context. This research program is organized around five core areas of study: Pre-Modern art, early modern art history, modern and contemporary art history, the history of textile arts, and the history of architecture and historic preservation. The Institute‘s primary focus is on the traditional art historical media of architecture, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts (with emphasis on textile arts), as well as photography and new media.

The principle fields of inquiry in the history of art are the research and analysis of artistic production in its historical and cultural context; the analysis of religious, social, and aesthetic functions of works of art; the classification of forms and genres of art objects and architecture; the research of the histories of these generic differences; the interpretation of meaning and content; the investigation of artistic and literary reception; art theory, art historiography, and the history of art historical method.

The Institute fulfills the task of pursuing each of these lines of inquiry. It offers a foundation to students in the discipline through Bachelor’s and Master’s courses of study, pre-doctoral training in research, and practice in public speaking and mediation.

The Institute’s mission is to bring together research and teaching. In order to ensure quality in both, teaching and research projects at the Institute are subject to regular oversight aimed to spur improvement in both domains.

Specialties of the Institute in Bern

  • A broad, foundational Bachelor’s training program in all faculties of art history from the Middle Ages to the present
  • Master’s program oriented towards providing professional experience in a specific field of study
  • Specialties in contemporary art, early modern art history, the history of architecture and historic preservation, the history of textile arts, as well as research on Italy and the cultural history of the Mediterranean
  • Straightforward program of study and individual advising
  • Project and praxis-oriented course of study that provides opportunities to collaborate on exhibitions and publications, for example
  • Unique Monomaster program combining a Master’s degree in art history with a minor in museum studies, historic preservation, or the history of textile arts