About Smarthistory


Smarthistory is the most visited art history resource in the world. We are the official provider of art history for khanacademy.org, and we support AP art history and A-level curriculum. Smarthistory supports students, instructors, and lifelong learners everywhere.

Our mission

At Smarthistory we believe art has the power to transform lives and to build understanding across cultures. We believe that the brilliant histories of art belong to everyone, no matter their background.

Smarthistory’s free, award-winning digital content unlocks the expertise of hundreds of leading scholars, making the history of art accessible and engaging to more people, in more places, than any other provider.

Leadership

Beth HarrisDr. Beth Harris is co-founder and executive director of Smarthistory. Previously, she was dean of art and history at Khan Academy and director of digital learning at The Museum of Modern Art. Before joining MoMA, Beth was Associate Professor of art history and director of distance learning at the Fashion Institute of Technology where she taught both online and in the classroom. She has co-authored, with Dr. Steven Zucker, numerous articles on the future of education and the future of museums, and is the editor of Famine and Fashion: Needlewomen in the Nineteenth Century (2005). She received her Master’s degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and her doctorate in Art History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Dr. Steven Zucker is co-founder and executive director of Smarthistory. Previously, Steven was dean of art and history at Khan Academy. He was also chair of history of art and design at Pratt Institute where he strengthened enrollment and lead the renewal of curriculum across the Institute. Before that, he was dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY and chair of their art history department. He has taught at The School of Visual Arts, Hunter College, and at The Museum of Modern Art. Dr. Zucker is a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has co-authored, with Dr. Beth Harris, numerous articles on the future of education and the future of museums. Dr. Zucker received his Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellows

Dr. Arathi Menon is a content contributor in the art of South and Southeast Asia. Menon received her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego and her Ph.D. from Columbia University where her dissertation examined the syncretic and idiomatic mode of sacred art and architecture in medieval Kerala’s churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. Menon’s graduate studies and research was supported by the Steven Kossak Fellowship in Indian art, the Riggio Fellowship in Art History, and the American Institute of Indian Studies Junior Fellowship. She has taught at Columbia University, Palomar College, and Scripps College, Claremont.

Dr. Evan Freeman is a content contributor in the art and culture of Byzantium. He holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University, where he wrote his dissertation on ritual objects in the Middle Byzantine Divine Liturgy. His primary research interests include art and materiality, ritual, and cross-cultural exchange in Byzantium and the wider medieval Mediterranean. He is also interested in Byzantium’s influence on medieval Russian art and architecture, and has published on the twentieth-century “rediscovery” of the icon and subsequent receptions of the icon by Pavel Florensky and other thinkers of the Russian Silver Age and Russian Religious Renaissance.

Academic and technical support

Smarthistory relies on the extraordinary generosity and dedication of our contributing editors and our many academic contributors. Without their commitment, Smarthistory would not be possible. We would also like to thank Dr. Joseph Ugoretz for his technology expertise and Susan Koski Zucker for her design expertise.

Learn more

Smarthistory opens museums and cultural sites up to the world, one video at a time. We’re creating world-class resources on art and cultural objects for learners from around the globe—for free. Smarthistory is the most-visited art history website in the world. Our conversational videos and essays cover art and cultural heritage that range from the paleolithic to the present.

Recent stats
48 million views in 2019
400 academic contributors
3,000 essays and videos
156,000 YouTube subscribers
30 number of museums we have worked with

Art connects us to the world; it allows us to imagine, to create, to build and to inspire, and it shouldn’t be locked up in a textbook. Smarthistory takes you inside museums and outside to ancient temples and engages in conversations about how to interpret and understand the images you’re seeing. Smarthistory brings you into the conversation.

Édouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882 (Courtauld Galleries, London)

Édouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882 (Courtauld Galleries, London)

Now more than ever we need understanding, rigorous analysis and nuance, and art history teaches the critical thinking needed to better comprehend current events and their cultural and historical context.

Smarthistory is the window through which to learn about today’s biggest clash points: we interrogate faith, class, race, gender and power through a study of art and objects from ancient times until the present. We help learners navigate their world by teaching the skills of interpretation and judgement to help them make meaning of the world around them.

For the past five years I have relied heavily on your wonderful Smarthistory website when I teach Art Appreciation on our public campus. The open source text has enabled me to do away with a hard copy text and save my students hundreds of dollars. In addition I believe your articles and videos are superior to any text on the market today. Liz Frey, Associate Professor, Centralia College

Art encourages empathy and connection across cultural divides: by understanding each other’s history and context, we can grow closer with stronger compassion and knowledge.

Tomb of the founder of the Ming dynasty, Nanjing, China

Tomb of the founder of the Ming dynasty, Nanjing, China, 1381-1405

At Smarthistory, we believe in the power and importance of dialog. We don’t prescribe or dictate: we use unscripted conversations to show the subjective, interpretive and experiential nature of art. Human brains are wired to follow real conversation and we find that engages the processes of learning.

Examining art doesn’t have to happen with a silent, respectful gaze: artists invite inquiry and debate, and we facilitate and role-model that dynamic exchange for learners to help the art come alive. On Smarthistory, our conversations are intimate connections with our learners: we speak directly to them and include the sound of visitors or the echo of the vaulted ceiling of a church to help contextualize the artwork’s location and to relate art history to a world that students recognize.

Coatlicue, c. 1500, Mexica (Aztec), found on the SE edge of the Plaza Mayor/Zocalo in Mexico City, basalt, 257 cm high (National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City)

Coatlicue, c. 1500, Mexica (Aztec), found on the SE edge of the Plaza Mayor/Zocalo in Mexico City, basalt, 257 cm high (National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City)

Smarthistory is the result of a collaboration of more than 300 art historians, archaeologists, curators and academics who want to make the highest-quality art history resources freely available to a global audience.

We believe collaborating is the best way to create powerful and compelling content, and bring together content creators from a diverse array of perspectives and backgrounds. All our contributions are donations, expressing our community’s shared belief in making the best in global art history freely available to learners around the world.

Many of us involved with Smarthistory recognize that it is a form of activism or a democratizing social project because the site is available to anyone, anytime, anywhere. You can read content or watch videos in any order you like. You can rewrite traditional narratives….Smarthistory is also an outlook and a method. In fact, let’s just create a verb here: “to smarthistory”….I smarthistory because I want to shake up the canon, transform how Art History operates, engage with different publics, collaborate with people, transform my classroom (and my pedagogy for that matter), and challenge myself to think in new ways. Dr. Lauren Kilroy Ewbank, Associate Professor of Art History at Pepperdine University

Smarthistory supports the ethical and open sharing of cultural knowledge. All of our resources are published under a Creative Commons non-commercial license and are available ad-free to anyone with an internet connection.

Piano and Rogers, Centre Pompidou, 1971-77

Piano and Rogers, Centre Pompidou, 1971-77

Many of the greatest inventions have come from art: seeing, thinking and wondering about improving the world. We strongly believe art history helps us understand past generations and their dreams and aspirations, while also informing our own.

Smarthistory can bring art and history to life, taking you right up to a monument, painting or object in its current environment, helping you journey to places and times beyond your own. The world is complex, but learning about it doesn’t have to be.

Smarthistory has worked with numerous institutions, including:

American Museum of Natural History
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Art Institute of Chicago
Asian Art Museum
British Library
British Museum
Brooklyn Museum
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Denver Art Museum
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution
J. Paul Getty Museum
Google Cultural Institute
Harvard Art Museums
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Minneapolis Institute of Art
Museo Ebraico di Venezia
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The Museum of Modern Art
National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian
Newark Museum of Art
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Save Venice
Tate
Toledo Museum of Art
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Wikipedia/GLAM
World Monuments Fund

 

We are very grateful to all of our supporters, from students who have given small but meaningful gifts to our major donors. We’d like to offer a special thank you to John and Ann Doerr for their extraordinary generosity and vision.

Major donors
$1,000,000+
Benificus Foundation
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

$500,000+
National Endowment for the Humanities

$250,000+
Terra Foundation for American Art
Alice L. Walton Foundation

$100,000+
The College Board
The Samuel H. Kress Foundation

$10,000+
Ampersand Foundation
Google Cultural Institute
Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis
Macaulay Family Foundation
Craig and Marie Vought

$5,000+
John and Kristina Fort
Agnes Gund
Linkedin For Good/Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Jeffrey Snover
Minli Virdone

$1,000+
Pascal Brochier
Robert H. Fergus and Elizabeth Fergus Foundation
James P. Merchant and Victoria S. Merchant
Maura Miller
Nan Peletz
WHRO Corporation


Ivy league universities, community colleges, K12 school districts, museums, and other learning institutions recommend Smarthistory
(partial list)

  1. Albany Museum of Art
  2. Albright College
  3. Alfred University
  4. American Library Association
  5. ANISA Per l’educazione all’arte (National Association of Art History Teachers, Italy)
  6. Aristoi Classical Academy
  7. Arizona State University
  8. Art Educators of New Jersey (professional association)
  9. Assumption College
  10. Athens Technical College
  11. Austin Community College
  12. Bay College
  13. Bellevue College
  14. Bethel University
  15. Binghamton University
  16. Borough of Manhattan Community College
  17. Bridgewater State University
  18. Brisbane Boys’ College, Australia
  19. Bristol Community College
  20. Bronx Community College
  21. Brooklyn College
  22. California College of the Arts
  23. California Department of Education
  24. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  25. California Polytechnic State University
  26. California University of Pennsylvania
  27. Carroll County Public Library
  28. Castleton University
  29. Generalitat de Catalunya Department d’Educació (Dept of Education, Catalonia, Spain)
  30. Central Arizona College
  31. Cincinnati Museum Center
  32. The Citadel
  33. City Colleges of Chicago
  34. Cohoes City School District (Seeing America)
  35. College of Alameda
  36. The College Board
  37. College of Charleston
  38. College of the Mainland
  39. College of New Paltz
  40. College of the Ozarks
  41. College of Saint Rose
  42. College of St. Scholastica
  43. College of Southern Idaho
  44. Columbia Borough School District
  45. Columbia College
  46. Columbia College, Chicago
  47. Columbia University
  48. Columbus State Community College
  49. Community College of Allegheny County
  50. Concordia University, Oregon
  51. Concordia University, Texas
  52. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
  53. Cornell University
  54. Crystal Bridges Museum of Art
  55. Cuesta College
  56. Cuyahoga Community College
  57. Dakota College at Bottineau
  58. Davidson Institute
  59. Daytona State College
  60. Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District, MA
  61. Dickinson College
  62. Dixie State University
  63. Drew University
  64. Drexel University
  65. Duke University
  66. Durham College
  67. Eastern Florida State College
  68. Edgewood College
  69. El Dorado High School
  70. Emmanuel College
  71. Emory University
  72. ESC Region 13 (Austin school district)
  73. European Open edu
  74. Evergreen Valley College
  75. Fairfield University
  76. Florida A&M University
  77. Florida International University
  78. Florida State University
  79. Fontbonne University
  80. Fort Valley State University
  81. Frick Art Reference Library
  82. Frostberg State University
  83. Furman University
  84. Geneseo, SUNY
  85. Georgia State University
  86. Georgetown University
  87. Gettysburg College
  88. Glacier Peak High School
  89. Government of Malta
  90. Grand Valley State University
  91. Greene County Schools (public) TN
  92. Greenville Technical College
  93. Grossmont College
  94. Harvard University
  95. Highline College
  96. HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
  97. Hofstra University
  98. Houston Community College
  99. Hope College
  100. Humboldt State University
  101. Hunter College
  102. Iowa State University
  103. Istanbul Ayvansaray University
  104. Ivy Tech Community College
  105. Johnson & Wales University
  106. Juniata College
  107. Keene State College
  108. Kennewick School District, WA
  109. Khan Academy
  110. LaGuardia Community College
  111. Lander University
  112. Lane Community College
  113. Langara College
  114. Lansing Community College
  115. Lehman College, City University of New York
  116. Lesley University
  117. Linn-Benton Community College
  118. London Metropolitan University
  119. Lone Star College, University Park
  120. Los Angeles Valley County College
  121. Macaulay Honors College
  122. Manor College
  123. Marquette University
  124. Maryland Institute College of Art
  125. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  126. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  127. Massasoit Community College
  128. McNay Art Museum, TX
  129. Medicine Hat College
  130. Mentone Girls’ Grammar School, Australia
  131. Miami Dade College
  132. Mississippi Department of Education
  133. Monash University
  134. Montgomery County Community College
  135. Minnesota State University
  136. Murray State University
  137. Mustang Public Schools, Oklahoma
  138. Nassau Community College
  139. National University
  140. Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
  141. Norquest College
  142. Northeast Community College
  143. North Lake College
  144. North Shore Community College
  145. Northwest Nazarene University
  146. Northwestern Michigan College
  147. Northwestern University
  148. Okanagan College
  149. Oswego State University of New York
  150. Otis College of Art and Design
  151. Pelham School District
  152. Pembroke Public Library
  153. Pennsylvania State University
  154. Pepperdine University
  155. Piedmont Virginia Community College
  156. Pikes Peak Library District
  157. Pittsford School District
  158. Pratt Institute
  159. Rhode Island College
  160. Richmond Community College
  161. Riverside County Office of Education, CA
  162. Rollins College
  163. Rutgers University
  164. Ryerson University
  165. Saint Francis College
  166. Saint John’s University
  167. Saint Leo University
  168. Sam Houston State University
  169. San Jacinto College
  170. San Jose State University
  171. Santa Rosa Junior College
  172. Sante Fe College
  173. Savannah College of Art and Design
  174. Simmons University
  175. Skagit Valley College
  176. Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
  177. Snohomish School District
  178. Sonoma State University
  179. Southeast Delco School District
  180. Southeast Service Cooperative, MN
  181. Southern Adventist University
  182. Southern Connecticut State University
  183. Southern New Hampshire University
  184. Southern Vermont College
  185. Spartanburg Community College
  186. Spartanburg Methodist College
  187. Spelman College
  188. Spokane Community College
  189. Springfield Technical Community College
  190. SUNY Cobleskill
  191. SUNY New Paltz
  192. Stephens College
  193. Syracuse University
  194. Tacoma Community College
  195. Texas State University
  196. Thomas Nelson Community College
  197. Tidewater Community College
  198. TMI Episcopal
  199. Toledo Museum of Art
  200. Trident Technical College
  201. Tulane University
  202. John Tyler Community College
  203. University of Alabama at Birmingham
  204. University of Alaska
  205. University of Arkansas
  206. University of Central Florida
  207. University of California, Los Angeles
  208. University of Chicago
  209. University of Colorado, Boulder
  210. University for the Creative Arts
  211. University of Hong Kong
  212. University of Maine
  213. University of Maryland
  214. University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
  215. University of Nebraska, Omaha
  216. University of Nevada, Reno
  217. University of New Hampshire
  218. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  219. University of North Carolina, Wilmington
  220. University of Pennsylvania
  221. University of South Carolina
  222. University of Sydney
  223. University of Texas, Arlington
  224. University of Texas, San Antonio
  225. University of Washington, Bothell
  226. University of the West
  227. University of West Florida
  228. University of Wisconsin, Madison
  229. University of the Witwatersrand
  230. Upper Canada Virtual Library
  231. Valor Christian High School
  232. Valencia College
  233. Victoria (Australia) Department of Education
  234. The Warburg Institute, School for Advanced Study, University of London
  235. Washington University in Saint Louis
  236. West Texas A&M University
  237. West Tisbury Library
  238. Wellesley College
  239. Wellesley Middle School
  240. Westchester Community College
  241. West Chester University
  242. Westminster College
  243. West Texas A&M University
  244. West Virginia University
  245. Willamette University
  246. Williams College
  247. Winston-Salem State University
  248. Woodland School District 50, IL
  249. WorldCat (OCLC)
  250. Worcester Art Museum
  251. York College of Pennsylvania