History of Art and Architecture

Spring 2015 Undergraduate News

Our undergraduate students have been particularly busy this year, engaging in exciting travel opportunities, independent research projects, teaching and research assistantships, designing and participating in service-learning programs, developing gallery exhibitions and serving in local arts organizations.  Recent majors have won awards from the University Honors College, the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, and the History of Art and the Friends of the Frick Fine Arts to travel to Germany, Istanbul, New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris, and Chicago to advance independent research projects.  Even more secured summer research funding to remain on campus to begin honors thesis projects.

Architectural Studies Field Trip

Last October, the architectural studies field trip traveled to Cleveland and Buffalo.  These annual trips are intense and aim to create an intimate portrait of the city and its architecture.  In Cleveland we contrasted the city's planned Beaux-Arts downtown with the realities facing the changing city.  Highlights of the trip to Cleveland included a visit to The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Peter B. Lewis Building designed by Frank Gehry, and Stan Hywet Hall in nearby Akron.  In Buffalo, we focused on the transformative role of aging monuments in the contemporary city.  We visited several in-process building rehabilitations.  The Richardson Olmsted Complex, the famous psychiatric hospital, was being transformed into a hotel and the Buffalo Central Terminal was in the early stages of restoration.  We toured Frank Lloyd Wright's recently renovated Darwin Martin House and his Grayciff Estate, currently undergoing improvements.  A critical portion of the trip each year is a visit to a school of architecture, and in Buffalo we were hosted by SUNY Buffalo.  As a final gesture, we were invited to tour Silo City, the towering, nearly abandoned city of grain elevators south of downtown Buffalo.  The monumental yet empty space, now used for cultural events and art projects, reflected the mighty past and shifting futures of rust belt cities.

Museum Studies Program

Our museum studies program continues to prosper.  The 2014 Milton Fine Museum Profession Fellows (Karen Lue, Grace Strong, and Matthew Sova) were partnered with Nicholas Chambers, Curator at the Andy Warhol Museum; Marilyn Russell, Curator of Education at the Carnegie Museum of Art and Janet McCall, Executive Director of the Society for Contemporary Craft.    Last fall, the Museum Studies Exhibition Seminar, led by Janet McCall, executed a compelling exhibition on the work of Gertrude Quastler using prints and art works owned by the University Art Gallery.  This spring, a team of undergraduates under the direction of Terry Smith executed an exhibition on Documenta 5, which was held in 1972 in Kassel, Germany, and its curator, Harald Szeemann. The new minor in Museum Studies is drawing increasing enrollment, particularly from students in the departments of History and Anthropology.

Honors Thesis

Three of our students graduated in April 2014 with the prestigious Bachelor of Philosophy Degree from the University Honors College for the successful completion of extensive thesis research.  Lauren Burgess, a joint Communications and HAA major devoted her study to Henri Matisse’s Chapel in Vence, France; Grace Meloy a joint Architectural Studies Preservation track and Civil and Environmental Engineering major studied tourist sites and infrastructure at the center and periphery of Berlin, and Julia Warren, also a Preservation track major, developed an analysis of the High Line in Manhattan.

Pittsburgh Assistance Center for Educators and Students

Exciting service-learning projects have also extended the reach of our History of Art and Architecture students in new directions.  Last spring, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Assistance Center for Educators and Students (PACES, https://www.pittsburghaces.org/programs.html), HAA majors Danny Augenbraun, Lauren Burgess, Cyrille Froncek, Grace Kelly, and Joanna Kemp taught local high school students about public art during their school-day activity period, and mentored them through the completion of their own works of art which were exhibited at our University Art Gallery in May.  The project received great press in the Summer edition of Pitt Magazine: http://www.zinio.com/reader.jsp?issue=416313687&o=ext.  Last summer, Kaley Kilpatrick worked with Melissa Hiller at the American Jewish Museum of the JCC in Squirrel Hill to develop art conversation programs for local senior care facilities for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.   And last fall, three HAA majors, Kilpatrik, Alice Gallagher and Liyi Chen are part of a dynamic interdisciplinary team of faculty, graduate students and other undergraduates from Pitt’s School of Education and Department of Psychology who are researching the response of school-age children to sites of traumatic memory.  Specifically, they are partnering with the U.S. Parks Service to study and enhance the educational experience of the Flight 93 Memorial site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  


Exciting honors thesis and research projects and talented architectural design work has been undertaken by our students this academic year.  To learn more about those who were featured in the 2015 HAAARCH!!! Showcase of Undergraduate Student Accomplishment, go to http://constellations.pitt.edu/HAAARCH2015.