T H E V I S I O N
Like other traditional liberal arts programs, history of art provides students with a broad education that develops their ability to think critically, conduct research, solve scholarly problems, and write fluently. But the University of Michigan also offers something quite unique. Through classroom experiences and field trips, students gain an in-depth understanding of cultural phenomena and come to appreciate how visual artifacts can be as meaningful and significant as texts. By cultivating the ability to interpret works of art, we make it possible for students to engage in a wide-ranging comparative study of various traditions and cultures, broadening horizons and giving them new insights into the nature of their own culture.
T H E V A L U E
Studies in the history of art are valuable – to individuals and society – for a host of reasons: Images, material objects, and built environments are central to our understanding of modern culture and what we know of other cultures. Art history offers an in-depth exploration of how the visual arts and other forms of material culture communicate and differ in various periods and places. Field trips to museums and architectural sites – a unique feature of our program – give students opportunities to engage in hands-on work through which they learn how art objects were understood in their own time and place, and how they function in the modern world, inside and outside the museum. By studying the wide range of things that people have made and endowed with meaning, students become familiar with paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings, decorative arts and architecture, as well as visual forms that lie outside the traditional territory of art such as advertising, ritual and ceremony, household furnishings, and popular entertainment. Consequently, they acquire skills of visual analysis that enable them to understand how images, objects, and built environments communicate. Many of our alumni go on to curator positions in museums, serve on faculties of educational institutions, or continue their studies in prestigious graduate programs. Still others leverage their knowledge and skills to pursue careers in journalism and other areas.
T H E D I F F E R E N C E
The high quality of our program – the richness and diversity of the experience we offer our students – depends heavily upon additional financial support. Through the generosity of donors, we are able to offer special initiatives that otherwise would not exist. Funding priorities include the following:
Museum, Gallery, and Site Field Trips $20,000 to $400,000
One of the most important and highly distinctive features of our program is the field trips organized by the department to museums and architectural sites. These journeys give students an opportunity to engage in hands-on work with original art objects and archival materials. They learn how art objects were understood in their own time and place, and how they function in the modern world, both inside and outside the museum. Expendable gifts of $20,000 annually, or an endowment of $400,000, are needed to support field trips on a regular basis and enhance course offerings with sponsored visits that allow students to see first hand major examples of the works of art they are studying.
Departmental Symposia and Guest Lectures $10,000 to $200,000
Seminars and lectures presented by scholars outside the University introduce students to leading figures in the field and provide an opportunity to discuss new work and research. An annual gift of $10,000 will fund one to two symposia or guest lectures. An endowment of $200,000 will fully fund this initiative.
Visual Material for Research $10,000 to $200,000
Faculty and graduate students wishing to publish their research findings often require grants to help cover the high costs of acquiring and gaining reproduction rights for illustrations. An expendable gift of $10,000 will pay these costs for a period of one year. An endowed gift of $200,000 will provide permanent support for this important work.
Scholarships $20,000 to $400,000
Competitive graduate "studentships" will make it possible to strengthen the program in specific areas of study such as: the arts of Asia, African and African American art, medieval and early modern art, arts of the Americas, and Islamic art. Our goal is an endowment fund that will enable the department to offer a studentship, once every three to five years, in a particular area we are seeking to consolidate or expand. This named studentship will affirm the University of Michigan as a vital center for graduate study in the field of history of art. An expendable gift of $40,000 will support one studentship for one year. An endowment of $400,000 will fund a studentship in perpetuity. Student research and internship scholarships enable our graduate program to provide the comprehensive training that promising young scholars require if they wish to become major figures in their field. Specifically, it is imperative that the department provide financial support for attendance at art history conferences and seminars as well as for major research expenses, including trips to museums, special exhibitions and relevant libraries and archives. In this way, we can give our students the resources to make the most of their graduate studies. An expendable gift of $20,000 will fund three to four students per year, while an endowment of $400,000 will fully fund the initiative.
Strengthening and Diversifying Faculty $50,000 to $2 million
Outstanding faculty are central to the continuing quality of the program and the ongoing leadership of the department. In order to expand the curriculum and fully support already-strong areas of the program, we must from time to time create new posts that the University does not have the resources to fund. In these cases, donor gifts make it possible to compete for top professors and researchers in the field. Postdoctoral fellows, who are appointed for two years to teach selected courses in their area of expertise, play a vital role in refreshing the program with new ideas, discussion, and debate. At the beginning of their careers and experimenting with new approaches to teaching and research, these young scholars have much to offer graduates and undergraduates alike. An annual gift of $50,000 will provide support for one postdoctoral fellow. An endowed gift of $2 million will provide permanent, ongoing support for postdoctoral fellowships.
An endowed chair is an important means of attracting high caliber faculty to Michigan and sustaining program strength across a wide range of areas of art history. Thus, an endowed chair can be used (1) to continue existing leadership and excellence in a particular area or (2) make it possible to expand into a new area, under the direction of a senior scholar with sufficient contacts and expertise to make the expansion a real success. A gift of $2 million will establish a Named Endowed Chair.
Department Strategic Fund $10,000 to $50,000
It is only by innovating and boldly responding to new opportunities in teaching and research that we are able to maintain our position at the forefront of art history education. Each academic year presents difficult challenges and exciting possibilities, many of which require the strategic use of funds. By providing financial support not otherwise available, gifts to the Chair's Discretionary Fund have a significant impact on the department and its continuing success. Annual gifts in all amounts are welcomed.
All donors will be eligible for Presidential Society Recognition opportunities, including the President's Club ($15,000), the Tappan Society ($50,000) and the Hutchins Society ($100,000).
Explorations in Art and Visual Culture Endowment FundThis endowment fund, established in 2007, helps finance educational field trips to museums, galleries, and other sites.
Firsthand exposure to original works of art is essential to our educational mission. The use of reproductions in the classroom, while necessary for teaching in Ann Arbor, is no substitute for students' direct experience of the rich range of visual material they are studying. We are thus committed to enhancing classroom instruction with an ambitious program of faculty-led excursions to museums and galleries. These benefit students enrolled in all our courses, from large introductory surveys to advanced seminars. Faculty members organize day-long excursions to major collections in the Ann Arbor area, such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Toledo Art Museum, as well as to more specialized local institutions such as the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Henry Ford Museum. Students enrolled in advanced seminars in art history visit major national museums much further afield, in cities such as New York, Washington, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, and Los Angeles. Such trips give students the opportunity to see international exhibitions of artworks brought together from collections all over the world. special trips are also organized abroad, including week-long excursions to Mexico City, Paris, and Tokyo. We are very committed to fostering a greater understanding of foreign cultures so that students gain a global awareness of the world they live in.
If educational trips are to remain integral to our program, travel expenses need to be subsidized so that students enrolled in our courses can participate regardless of their financial situation. Such funds are not provided by the University and must come either from endowments or from designated gifts to the department.
Your donation will make a genuine contribution to Michigan's educational richness and help students gain a fuller and deeper appreciation of art and the cultures they study.
University of Michigan Philanthropy Network