The Muhlenberg Art Department was founded in 1953 by internationally famous sculptor George Rickey. Since then, we have grown into the interdisciplinary, interactive and international department we are today. We strive to provide a focused, rigorous curriculum in the visual arts for majors and minors, set within the broad-based liberal arts programming which is the hallmark of a Muhlenberg education. Many graduates have been accepted to MFA and PhD programs across the country and abroad and go on to pursue diverse fields such as art education, publication editing and design, medical illustration, medicine and law.
Students in the Art Department often explore the breadth of our curriculum by complementing their majors and/or minors with courses in other disciplines. Not only do we encourage our students to deepen their understanding of the arts through double majors in Art and Psychology, Business, Theater or Anthropology (to name only a few options), but we also welcome students from other departments to enroll in studio and art history classes. We teach and share facilities with English, Media Communications, and Biology. Through Muhlenberg’s LVAIC partnership, students may also enroll in art classes at nearby Cedar Crest College, DeSales University, Lafayette College, Lehigh University and Moravian College.
We believe that our students should have access to as many resources as possible in order to foster their personal, academic and artistic growth. From their first studio or art history class, they collaborate with faculty and staff members who both educate and guide them as they pursue their artistic goals. The department’s low faculty-to-student ratio ensures that students receive the best of both worlds—individualized attention with the freedom to take the lead in exploring personal creative interests. Students have access to a range of facilities housed in the Center for the Arts and receive training in proper equipment handling as part of their regular coursework. Highly motivated students may be eligible for grants to work one-on-one with an Art Department faculty member for a 4-8 week period over the summer. These are valuable opportunities to gain experience researching, writing, creating and presenting within the professional art world, and typically result in a publication or exhibition.
Our reach extends far beyond the Muhlenberg campus. Students also have the chance to fully immerse themselves in the vibrant cultural communities of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. They are exposed to quality local, international and student artwork at our very own Martin Art Gallery.
Students have access to dozens of exhibits, lectures, workshops, courses and internships at the nearby Allentown Art Museum and local colleges. Additionally, the world-class museums and galleries of New York and Philadelphia are within one to two hours, and students often plan their own visits as well as take advantage of the Art Department’s bus trip every semester.
In addition to regional excursions, Muhlenberg students of all academic disciplines engage in study abroad experiences around the world. Some of the most popular study abroad destinations for art students include the Florence University of the Arts, the Slade School of Fine Arts in London and Goldsmith’s College in London. Other art-related programs include SIT’s Arts and Social Change series in the Czech Republic or Indonesia, as well as their National Identity and the Arts program in India or Senegal. Please visit our Office of International Programs for a complete listing of Muhlenberg-approved offerings available to all students.
The Art Department has also recently initiated exciting international fieldwork opportunities in both Costa Rica and China. During the semester, classes of approximately fifteen students are team-taught by a collaboration of professors from the Biology, Sociology and Art Departments. These students are encouraged to approach the given country through multiple lenses as they develop personal research projects to be carried out in an intensive three-week abroad experience at the end of the course.