Art Historian








What is an Art Historian?

An Art Historian loves and studies art. 

They are interested in the different historical aspects of the artworks. This includes: the artistic movements to which they belong and the social and political times when during which they were made in. 

An Art Historian has a broad knowledge of art, or they specialise in one art movement or style. 

Some Art Historians work in education, while others work as museum curators, preservationists or in private art houses. Other jobs for Art Historians include publishing or journalism, work as an appraisers or art curator.

What does an Art Historian do?

  • Art Curator

They are employed by an art gallery, museum, or large company which invests in large quantities of art. They will be involved in researching and buying new pieces of art. They will know how pieces should be displayed or stored properly. They will be responsible for getting the right insurance.

  • Preservation

Some Art Historians (Preservationists) make sure artworks (paintings, sculptures, and buildings etc) remain as close to their original state as possible. This may involve controlling environmental factors, eg lighting and temperature.  Some Preservationists will perform restorative work to cut down or correct damage which has happened over time.

  • Writer and/or Editor

An Art Historian may have a career in journalism or publishing. They write articles about art-related topics for magazines and newspapers. They may write textbooks on various aspects of art history or may edit the work of other art history authors.

  • Appraiser

The Art Historian uses their knowledge to work out the value of artworks. They may be employed by a fine art auction house, private company or a wealthy private person.

  • Art Educator

An Art Historian might consider a career in education – teaching at a high school or at a university or college. 

Are you … ?

  • passionate about art?
  • passionate about history?
  • interested in research?
  • observant?
  • a person with an eye for detail?
  • responsible?
  • trustworthy?

How do I become an Art Historian?

Most Art Historian jobs require a degree. College-level art educators, curators, and preservationists need a PhD in Art History specialising in an area of interest.

An Art Historian who wishes to work in journalism, publishing, or art appraisal may need a master’s degree.

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Fine Arts with strong emphasis on Art History is highly recommended. 

Most universities offer a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art. 

Minimum requirements:   

National Senior Certificate meeting degree entry or equivalent NQF qualification 

A portfolio of your work is, however, compulsory. No application will be received without it! 


  • CLICK HERE to check for a training institution near you to see what they offer.
  • Make sure you understand their entry requirements for each course.
  • To avoid scams, make sure your institution is registered with the Department of Higher Education. 
  • CLICK HERE to check accredited Private Higher Education Institutions. 


Or see under Fine Artist for more detailed study options.


OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER:  Art Critic … or … Archeologist

Is becoming an Art Historian the right career choice for me.