The academic discipline of “Art History” teaches students to understand the significance of works of art in their historical contexts. Art history should not be equated with art appreciation or art criticism, activities that seek mainly to evaluate and explain the relative “beauty” or “value” of an artwork through discussion of form and subjective experience. Rather, art historians engage in critical, historical inquiry into the meaning and function of visual media. Art history teaches visual literacy which helps practitioners to recognize the ways in which images communicate and shape human perceptions about history, society, politics, religion and culture. An active interest in and/or familiarity with major historical epochs and events as well as the methods of historical inquiry and research is therefore necessary for anyone considering the study of art history.
Our HKU Master of Arts in Art History (MAAH) programme is the first MA in Hong Kong to focus on art history. We provide advanced training in research and writing for students and specialists pursuing further academic study in art history or professional careers in museums and other art-related fields. It is important to understand that our programme is not primarily a curatorial studies programme, nor does it focus on navigating the art market. We do include training in a number of curatorial skills that are essential for work in museums and galleries, but these are just part of the larger academic curriculum, which emphasizes art historical research, theory, and writing.