Westover’s rich program in Art History is part of a unique legacy. Not only has art history been a part of the curriculum since 1913, four years after Westover opened in 1909, but Theodate Pope Riddle, architect of Westover and one of America's first successful female architects, was a friend of noted impressionist painter Mary Cassatt.
Westover offers a rich and diverse curriculum in Art History. In addition to the year-long examination of global artistic traditions in AP Art History, each trimester an art elective course offers a critical study of a particular culture in courses like “Italian Renaissance Art,” or thematic explorations in courses like “Women in the Visual Arts.” These traditional and seminar-style art history courses are complemented by our interdisciplinary course offerings which examine period or thematic studies of culture through art history, music, literature, photography, or the classics in courses like “The Romantic Spirit,” “Nature in the Arts,” or “The Art of Protest.” And because of Westover’s trimester structure, students have an opportunity to take art history classes beyond the one-course requirement and can choose from a course curriculum that changes and develops throughout a student’s four years at Westover.
Why Art History? As opposed to other historical disciplines, Art History is founded on direct visual experience, and as such, provides students an opportunity to develop visual literacy and critical thinking skills. Through an analysis of images from a variety of socio-cultural viewpoints and formalist approaches, students of Art History not only gain confidence in observing the visual world around them, but are also better able to use those analytical skills to understand and derive meaning from historical and contemporary culture.
These skills in visual literacy are made meaningful through direct visual encounters with museum objects as each student experiences works of art outside the classroom. Every term, each art history or interdisciplinary class goes on a relevant field trip to museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Frick Collection, Dia:Beacon, the Wadsworth, Storm King, or the Yale British Center for the Arts, among others, or to musical concerts and ballets at Lincoln Center, for example.
Technology at Westover also enhances each student’s experience of Art History from digital technology in slide viewing, to image and academic article databases, to interactive on-line discussions.
The Sonja Osborn Museum Studies Internship enables a junior or senior to broaden and enrich her dedication to Art History through practical experience in museum work. The program draws on the strengths of two Connecticut institutions, Westover School and Hill-Stead Museum, both of which share a common heritage of celebrating women who possess a strong commitment to and passion for the arts.
The museum studies internship consists of a multi-part program that each student develops in conjunction with Westover’s Art History teacher Ali Hildebrand and Hill-Stead staff members, based on the museum’s needs and the student’s interests. Each week, the student will travel to Hill-Stead where she’ll work with museum curators assisting in educational or public programs, working in collection management, and engaging in research or conservation of the collection.
At the conclusion of the internship, the student will present her experience interning at the museum through two focused projects that investigate Hill-Stead’s collection and consider the shared histories of the school and the museum. This internship will help students gain work experience, learn about museum studies, and build her resume in this field for both her college applications and her career. Interns receive both a stipend for their work at the museum as well as academic credit.
For more information on the Sonja Osborn Museum Studies Internship visit our Signature Programs Page