About HAA

The study of the History of Art was first offered at the College in the form of an elective in the spring of 1874. The three-hour course proved popular and blossomed into two courses offered the next year. The courses had close ties with history and literature, and the Classics, modern languages, and history departments took an interest in and supported the electives, believing they complemented their subject matter. It had long been considered a “grave defect” that the college did not provide instruction “in the history of what the Germans term Cultur…and in the relations between the development of this form of expression of human powers and longings, and of those recorded in the history of Literature, Science, and Institutions.” Professorships were created for the History of Art, with Charles Eliot Norton, "a life-long student of art and literature," serving as one of the first instructors. The new department of Fine Arts was subsequently formed. Specific entreaties had to be made to encourage the endowment of the professorship positions and to initiate the acquisition of an art collection for the department.