The Department of the History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University prepares students to undertake journeys into visual culture through traditional areas of study such as ancient, Medieval and Renaissance art, as well as through the integration of recent fields of theory and research. Students explore the history of cultural interactions as manifested in visual culture both inside and outside the West, from antiquity to present. The department encourages the crossing not only of geographic but also disciplinary borders through exploration of a wide range of fields including architecture, urban planning, critical and post-colonial theory, media studies, the sciences and social history.
Courses are offered in conjunction with the Herbert F. Johnson Museum, such as The Museum and the Object and the Exhibition Seminar. In addition, the History of Art Majors' Society provides undergraduate art history majors or prospective art history majors the opportunity to organize an art exhibition. The group coordinates an exhibition annually at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. Students curate, work on funding and compose a catalogue. Each year the department sponsors the Visual Culture Colloquium, a research and discussion forum; the Graduate Student Symposium; and The Ruth Woolsey Findley and William Nichols Findley History of Art Lecture Series.