Study Abroad / Art History in Rome

The Art History Seminar in Rome program offers a unique opportunity to study art and architecture in the vibrant and historical city of Rome. With classes held in churches, museums, and archeological sites in and around Rome, students will have the amazing change to experience first hand some of the most influential art in Western civilization. The program will be led by Professor Ivan Drpić. The Seminar’s goals are fourfold: 1) to give well-prepared students the opportunity to experience original works of art and architecture on site; 2) to study the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Rome and the Italian peninsula from ancient times to the present; 3) to facilitate small-group, collaborative, and in-depth learning; and 4) to provide students with a unique opportunity to grow as scholars through taking an active role in preparing, planning, and leading seminar discussions at sites in and around Rome. Students leave the Art History Seminar with both significant new expertise in art history and a profound sense of personal accomplishment. The Seminar is based at the University of Washington Rome Center, housed in the beautiful and historic Palazzo Pio in the heart of Rome. Built on the foundations of the Theater of Pompey, ancient Rome’s first permanent theater (dedicated in 55 B.C.), the seventeenth-century palace incorporates a medieval tower and adjoins the Campo de’ Fiori, site of Rome’s most attractive open-air market. The Center offers full access to UW’s online resources, a specialized library, and classroom facilities.

Program Dates

2016 dates to be determined.


The two courses make maximum use of original works of art and architecture by focusing on representative sites and monuments in and around Rome. Occasional classroom meetings supplement group visits to sites within the city, day excursions to the surroundings of Rome, and overnight field trips. Students will prepare on-site exercises and present three major individual presentations of key sites to the group. Presentation/research topics will be assigned in consultation with the instructor before leaving for Italy. The program will be supported by the resources of the UW Rome Center, which will provide classroom space, library and research access, logistic and scheduling support, and arrange housing.


The UW Rome Center arranges to rent apartments throughout the city. The apartments generally accommodate between three and nine students.


Pre-Requisites/Language Requirements

The Art History Seminar in Rome is primarily designed for undergraduate students with a major or minor in art history and for graduate students in the Division of Art History. The Seminar, however, welcomes students with a background in related disciplines such as history, religion, literature, and anthropology. Undergraduates must have successfully completed at least two courses in Art History or related disciplines on the 300-level by the beginning of the program. Graduate students must have completed two graduate-level courses in Art History in the UW Division of Art History.


15 Credits


Art and Visual Culture in Rome from Augustus to Mussolini – ART H 397 (10 credits) This course provides a wide-ranging introduction to the exceptionally rich artistic heritage of the city of Rome focusing upon key artworks, monuments, and sites. As the capital of emperors, popes, and modern dictators, a goal of pilgrims, artists, and antiquarians, a repository of fabulous riches, and an object of dream and desire, the Eternal City presents us with a unique and multifaceted history. From the ruins of ancient temples to the vertiginous opulence of Baroque church interiors, from palaces and museums to fountains and piazzas, Rome provides an ideal chance to study not only some of the iconic masterpieces of Western civilization, but also the complex interaction between art, society, politics, and religion. Combining a broad chronological survey with a detailed examination of paradigmatic works, this course explores Roman art across the city’s centuries-long history as a dynamic continuum of forms, motifs, and ideas. Art, Power and the Sacred in Medieval Rome – ART H 497 (5 credits) Spanning a thousand years from the reign of Constantine the Great to the transfer of the papal court to Avignon at the beginning of the fourteenth century, this course investigates the art of medieval Rome and the religious, political, and aesthetic concerns that shaped it. During the medieval era, the former imperial capital assumed a new identity as the most important center of Christianity in Western Europe, the seat of papacy, and a major pilgrimage site, home to countless relics of martyrs and saints. The course explores how the visual arts were mobilized to promote the power and authority of the popes and articulate Rome’s sacred identity. Topics to be addressed include the development of monumental church decoration, pilgrimage and the cult of relics, the role of icons in civic life, the phenomenon of spolia, and the nexus between art and politics. Special consideration will be given to the ways in which the art of medieval Rome self-consciously revived and reinterpreted the city’s imperial past.

Program Expenses

Estimated Cost

$7,615. This does not include IPE Fee ($300), airfare, food (about $44/day), Study Abroad Insurance ($37/month) and personal spending money.

Average Airplane Ticket Price

$1,500* roundtrip *subject to when & where you buy your ticket.

Financial Aid and Scholarships:

Most forms of financial aid can be applied to study abroad. You can verify that your financial aid award will apply to your program costs by contacting the Financial Aid Office. Financial aid or scholarships awarded as tuition waivers or tuition exemptions may not apply so you will need to verify that these funds are eligible for use with study abroad by contacting the funding office. Please remember that financial aid and most scholarships will be disbursed according to the UW academic calendar (at the beginning of the quarter). If your program starts before the start of the UW quarter, your financial aid will not be available to you until after you have left the country. If your program starts after the first day of the quarter, your financial aid will be disbursed on the first day of the program. In either of these cases, you will have to finance any upfront costs such as airfare and health insurance and the start of your time abroad on your own. Please take this into consideration when you plan your foreign study. Please visit the Finances section of the IPE website to learn more about disbursement, revising your aid package, short-term loans and scholarships.

Application Process

The online application includes a Personal Statement, 3 short answer questions, 1 Faculty recommendation and electronic signature documents related to University policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the on-line application process students may be contacted by the Program Director for an in-person interview. Once admissions decisions have been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.



Please contact us with any questions you have concerning the program or application process.

Program Leaders

Ivan Drpic, Faculty, Art History Erin Giffin, Teaching Assistant, Art History

SoA Study Abroad Coordinator

Ann Langford-Fuchs,