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Art History and Visual Studies
Art History Students
Art History and Visual Studies is one of Manchester's best established disciplines, with an impressive range and diversity of expertise.

About Us

Art History & Visual Studies (AHVS) is one of the UK’s foremost art history departments.  We have a thriving research community that includes 11 full-time members of staff, 3 postdoctoral fellows, and an AHRC-funded research centre.  AHVS is ranked fourth nationally in research, ahead of such departments as Cambridge and University College London.

We are located, with Music, Drama and Museology, in the School of Arts, Languages, and Cultures.  AHVS has a strong interdisciplinary orientation and actively collaborates with other disciplines and research centres across the university, including notably the Centre for Museology.

AHVS maintains close links with the Whitworth Art Gallery, which is undergoing a spectacular £12 million refurbishment.  Our students benefit from an in-house teaching library as well as the John Rylands Library at Deansgate, which houses renowned collections of pre-modern manuscripts and early printed books.  The proximity of other resources such as the Manchester Art Gallery and Tate Liverpool make Manchester an exciting place to study art history. 


Our History

Founded in the 1950s, Art History at the University of Manchester is one of the oldest departments in Britain.  The Pilkington Chair in Art History was created in 1956, at the time, the only endowed chair in art history in Britain.  A succession of important scholars have held this post.  The first Pilkington Chair was John White, who was also Director of the Whitworth Art Gallery — the department has had close ties to the Whitworth from its beginnings.  Other eminent art historians who have served as Pilkington Chairs include Reg Dodwell, Marcia Pointon and Amelia Jones.  More recently, we have appointed a series of prestigious Visiting Pilkington Professors, including Stephen Bann, Briony Fer, Martin Kemp, and Griselda Pollock.


Our Alumni

Our degree programmes have produced a number of high-achieving graduates, many of whom have gone on to outstanding international careers in the arts, journalism, auction houses, curating, and academia.

Our alumni in these fields include:

Oliver Barker: Sotheby’s, Senior International Specialist Contemporary Art

David Bellingham: Sotheby’s Institute, London 

Adam Chodzko: contemporary artist, showed in 'Sensation'

Melanie Clore: Chairman, Sotheby’s Europe 

Lily Dunn: journalist and novelist

Alex Garland: novelist

Waldemar Januszczak: art critic, television presenter

Samantha Lackey: Curator, Wakefield Hepworth Museum

Debbie Lewer: Lecturer in Art History, University of Glasgow

Honey Luard: Artist Liaison, White Cube

David Morris: Curator, Whitworth Art Gallery

Gavin Parkinson: Lecturer, Courtauld Institute of Art

Darren Pih: Exhibitions Curator, Tate Liverpool

Richard Pomeroy: Artist

Rick Poynor: writer, lecturer, and curator

Elisabeth Reissner: Lecturer in Conservation, Courtauld Institute

Chrissie Shearman: International Senior Director, Yvon Lambert Gallery, Paris

Josephine Berry Slater: editor of 'Mute'

Stephen Snoddy: Director, The New Art Gallery, Walsall

Robin Vousden: Senior Director, Gagosian Gallery

Simon Wallis: Director, Hepworth Museum, Wakefield

Richard J. Williams: Professor of Art History, Edinburgh