The Department of Art History and Theory was the first school for art historians in Lithuania. Its structure and experience served as a basis for creating similar programmes at other universities. The first art history students graduated from the Department in 1974, and in over ten years the alumni of Vilnius Academy of Arts partially compensated for the lack of professionals in the country’s museums, cultural institutions and schools of higher education. In 1993, the first and second cycle studies became separate programmes and the postgraduate programme History and Theory of Art was created with the purpose to deepen the specialisation of art historians who have learned the basics of the profession in order to reinforce the skills of independent research.
The graduates of this programme work successfully in most important cultural institutions of Lithuania and participate actively in the present art scene, become important initiators of national cultural life and express themselves in the international context.
The demand for such specialists is conditioned by a swift increase in contemporary art exhibitions and projects (international and local) and a necessity for new creative initiatives as well as the need to understand deeply related theoretical contexts and tendencies in world art, also by the growing need for lecturers of art history in newly founded art programmes of other universities and design collegiums; it should be also mentioned the need for creative, widely educated and culturally literate personalities in various areas of social life where the alumni of the History and Theory of Art programme are required and are already working (interdisciplinary research, cultural heritage protection, museology, education, expertise of art and research, public information, cultural management, advertisement, specialised translations, diplomacy, publishing, etc.).
The Master’s degree in history and theory of art is also a necessary step for those who want to continue studies in the third cycle programme and pursue an academic career. Seven students are admitted to the second cycle History and Theory of Art programme every year.