History of the Department

The Department of Art History and Archaeology, which has long been a vibrant unit central to the Humanities and to the College of Arts & Sciences at Washington University, has a distinguished history. Art history courses were first offered here in 1896. The Department and its first programs were founded in 1933 by George Mylonas, a specialist in the archaeology of ancient Greece who became particularly well known for his excavations at Mycenae and Corinth. We were the first art history department to offer a PhD program at a university West of the Mississippi.


Distinguished faculty members in the early decades included Profs. Mylonas, Frederick Hartt, Nelson Wu and Jean Sutherland Boggs. After 1960, our home was in the upper floor of Mark C. Steinberg Hall, and since 2006, we have been located in the Mildred Lane Kemper building. We are intellectual and academic partners with a broad range of humanities departments and programs in Arts & Sciences, including East Asian Studies, Classics, English, Film and Media Studies, German, History, Romance Languages, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, among many others. We are also an active collaborator with the Center for the Humanities at Washington University, and with local museums, especially the Kemper Art Museum, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, and the Saint Louis Art Museum. Click here for a brief history of the Department.