Studies in our department deal with the Visual Arts throughout history, from the Prehistoric Era to the present day. They cultivate your abilities of observation and understanding by imparting knowledge and a variety of tools for evaluating, analyzing and interpreting works of art in their historical and broad cultural contexts.

The Department of Art History of the Hebrew University was founded in 1964, the first such department in Israel. The founders were the late Prof. Moshe Barasch (Israel Prize winner 1996), an expert on Renaissance and Baroque Art; the late Prof. Michael Avi-Yonah who, in addition to being an art historian, was also an archeologist and taught both Ancient Art and Art in the Land of Israel during the Roman Period; the late Prof. Bezalel Narkiss (Israel Prize winner 1999), an expert on Jewish and Christian Art in the Middle Ages; and Prof. Avram Kampf who researched and taught Modern Art. From that time forth the Department of Art History has raised generations of researchers and teachers who deal with all periods of the history of the visual arts from prehistory to today, impart knowledge and various tools for evaluating, analyzing and interpreting works of art in their historical and broad cultural contexts.

Department number: 197

Faculty: Humanities

Campus: Mount Scopus

Founders Wall

(Click Photo for Further Reading)

Moshe Barash

In memoriam Prof. Moshe Barasch: Prof. Luba FreedmanProf. Ziva Amishai-Maisels

Prof. Bezalel Narkis

In memory of Prof. Narkiss: His words on reaching his 80th birthday

Message from the Head of the Department

People who love art, feel its attraction and are eager to take up its intellectual challenges can study in our department and join in the research that we do here.  Sometimes I hear that to study Art History "interests me, but is not practical." Those who feel this way are mistaken and miss the point of what is practical today and what isn't. Today our world communicates more and more through visual images and less through words. Even in daily life it is often preferable to send a picture than to describe a situation in writing. Often in public communication it is specifically a visual image and not an article that becomes the subject everyone is discussing. Here, as in every field there are different levels: everyone knows how to press the button on a camera, but not everyone can concentrate feelings and ideas into a unique image that we carry with us throughout our life. It is the artist who uses the visual image as a means of expression. And the person who can understand and interpret this special visual language on all its levels has a professional advantage over others in the current and future intellectual world. We are the department in which you will learn to analyze and understand this language in all its diverse expressions.

In order to become an expert in this field one must answer the following questions in depth: What is a picture? When and why and in which media did people begin to use visual images? How did these images serve different religions and ideologies? What place and role does the aesthetic experience have in all this? How did artists in different societies develop the ability to represent reality in images? Or, on the other hand, why did some societies think that an imitation of reality was not necessary or totally unacceptable or inferior intellectually and aesthetically, and therefore chose abstract representations? Did images always have political power, or is this a characteristic of the modern world? Is there only one correct interpretation of an image or does every view of it have its place? For a student to answer questions of this kind, and ask new questions independently, the department offers a program of study in Art History that is developed historically, starting from the prehistoric period to contemporary art, including Israeli art.

The Department of Art History of the Hebrew University offers a fascinating intellectual environment led by scholars and lecturers of the highest rank in the field of art historical research in Israel and in the world.

Already in your first years of study you will be able to begin to do research. There is nothing more rewarding than the joy of discovering the secrets of the visual language!

Dr. Lola Kantor-Kazovsky

Head of the Department

Dr. Lola Kantor-Kazovsky

The Aims of the Department

  • To provide students with an understanding of Art History as a tool for obtaining a broad view of human history and culture.
  • To develop the ability to understand and appreciate works of art from all periods and all places around the world.

  • To develop a theoretical and practical knowledge of the different processes and fields of the visual arts.

  • To prepare students to teach Art History and to use it in other fields of study in high schools, colleges and universities.

  • To train students to work in art museums and galleries.

  • To provide a broad basis for writing any type of art criticism or for consulting clients about aesthetic or artistic matters.