The Department of Art has created programs of major study that are deeply integrated with the overall liberal arts education that is the hallmark of Oberlin. A chief goal of the department is to help students acquire visual literacy, that is, the ability to understand and critically respond to our current visual culture and how it has been influenced by the traditions of visual representation from the past. Students also acquire sophisticated written, technical, and visual abilities that allow them to convey their ideas, their understanding, and their appreciation of art through formal and other types of media.
The department's access to campus facilities, including the internationally acclaimed Allen Memorial Art Museum, one of the top five museums on any college campus in the country, and the college's proximity to the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Toledo Museum of Art enrich the art major's overall academic development and experience. The arts complex is also architecturally distinguished, featuring important buildings by Cass Gilbert and Robert Venturi where students learn, create, and interact.
Students who plan to major in art at Oberlin can choose from one of three areas: art history, visual art, or studio art. Together with the liberal arts instruction at Oberlin, students receive a balanced educational and discipline specific experience. For example, a studio art major may benefit from a course in theater, cinema studies, or music, while an art history major must learn a foreign language.
The Clarence Ward Art Library supports the curriculum with a collection of more than 100,000 volumes. The department's faculty includes a balanced number of artists and art historians who are distinguished in their field and committed to undergraduate education. Our extensive visiting artists and scholars program makes possible short- and long-term visits by internationally acclaimed scholars and visual artists.
Students interested in advanced study in art consult with their advisors to determine objectives and professional opportunities. Students have received internships with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum, while graduates of the art program have pursued careers as art historians, gallery directors, curators, fine artists, photographers, filmmakers, architects, educators, urban planners, and many other fields.