Art History and Visual Art were first taught at The University of British Columbia when noted Canadian painter, B.C. Binning, was appointed to the faculty of the newly-formed School of Architecture. The Department of Fine Arts was established as an independent department within the Faculty of Arts in 1958. Since its inception the Department has grown steadily and now includes 23 full-time members of faculty (13 art historians and 10 visual artists). In 2001, the Department changed its name from Fine Arts to the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory to better to encapsulate the innovative teaching and interdisciplinary research interests of the faculty.
The Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory comprises three streams of research-based learning and practice: Art History, with a particular focus on theoretical and critical discourses concerning the social impact of art and visual representation at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; Critical and Curatorial Studies, examining through research and exhibition projects issues in contemporary visual culture and display; and Visual Art, with an undergraduate curriculum placing art production, academic learning and a graduate emphasis on preparation for participation in the field of contemporary international art.
The Department’s faculty are actively involved in research and bring this strength into their teaching at all levels. Undergraduate and graduate seminars enhance student experience in advanced academic research and practice. As a result many of our graduates have established distinguished careers in the creative, scholarly and gallery fields.
The main goal of Art History, Visual Art and Theory is to foster critical and reflexive thinking within an inclusive and supportive environment. The Department thus maintains the highest standards of intellectual and administrative practice, seeking to be innovative in pedagogy and international in scholarly perspective.