History of Art



The History of Art Department at UCL is committed to innovative thinking and an expansion of the traditional boundaries of our discipline

UCL History of Art overall best in London for Art and Design (REF 2021)

Our department’s research has been ranked 1st in London and 3rd in the UK for Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory by REF 2021 (overall GPA rankings). Learn more about the REF. 

As one of the first History of Art departments in the UK to pursue feminist studies, explore issues of class and inequality, and visual studies of difference, these explorations formed the groundwork for the pioneering critical approaches for which we are now known. While our research is not simply organised by periods or geographic areas, we are committed to historical inquiry from the Middle Ages to the present and collaborate in research networks on contemporary art and theory; early modern, colonial and postcolonial histories (Britain and British India, Europe, South Africa, the Americas); histories of the body (gender, sexuality, psychoanalysis, ethnicities, biopolitics); and the formation of art historical knowledge itself. 

The Department also has a longstanding expertise in the study of print culture, particularly in relation to social change. From a foundation of French eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art, especially the visual and material culture of the French Revolution, it has developed a recognised concentration on multiple visual technologies (print, photography, film, digital). This concentration has emerged in tandem with the department’s longstanding commitment to materials and conservation, a focus of research served by our unique Material Studies Laboratory.   

In our efforts to extend the boundaries of our discipline, we have not lost sight of the importance of the visual image, which we consider to be a catalyst for innovative thinking and an effective means of exchanging knowledge with wider and more diverse audiences.



The Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art is a lively research community for graduates and staff working and researching in the field of contemporary art.


Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect is a visual culture research seminar series that shares and explores recent concerns with the past and its place in the present.


Research Seminar Series

The latest events from the Department's main Research Seminar Series.

UCL culture public engagement

Public Engagement

Find out how members of UCL's History of Art Department engage with new and diverse audiences.

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Material Studies

The Material Studies Laboratory is a research and teaching facility housed within the Department of History of Art, UCL.

Staff publications

Staff Publications

An online bookshelf with a selection of publications authored and edited by staff past and present.


Institute of Advanced Studies

The Department of History of Art is closely connected to the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies, a research-based community of scholars committed to critical thinking and engaged enquiry both within and across disciplinary and institutional boundaries.

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Laidlaw Scholars

The department is very pleased to host Laidlaw Scholars undertaking research projects with us. Laidlaw scholars are ambitious undergraduate students who undertake a programme of activities during their three years with us. 


Demarginalizing medieval Africa: Images, texts, and identity in early Solomonic Ethiopia

This project, which has been supported by an AHRC-DFG grant (ref. no. AH/V002910/1) intends to shed new light on the art, history, and culture of the Ethiopian Empire.

Blue-and-white porcelain stand, China, 1403–1424; Metal stand, Syria or Egypt, 1300–1350 / both in British Museum (London)

Material Migrations: Mamluk Metalwork across Afro-Eurasia

A New Collaborative Research Project funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. The project is co-directed by Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa-Dzidzienyo (University of Ghana), Jacopo Gnisci (University College London), Vera-Simone Schulz (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut) and Raymond Silverman (University of Michigan) and will include three doctoral students and a postdoctoral researcher based at institutions in Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt and China. 

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Postdoctoral Research Opportunities

There are several opportunities for postdoctoral researchers to join the Department.

'How are you feeling?' Artist Rebecca Thomson, curated by the drawing shed in Trio, The Sunken Garden, Attlee Terrace housing estate, E17 3EQ. Photo: Sally Labern.

Emotional labour of social practice artists: moving towards sustainable collective care

‘Emotional labour of social practice artists: moving towards sustainable collective care’ is a seed project led by Dr Rebecca Gordon in collaboration with clinical psychologist Dr Naomi White.

Banner Image: Autumn Maples with Poem Slips, Tosa Mitsuoki, c. 1675