Peter Barr

Peter Barr

Professor of Art History
PhD Boston University

Peter Barr teaches eight different subjects in the history of art from Ancient Egypt to Postmodernism. His specializations are in the History of Photography and the History of Architecture. He also teaches the Art Department’s Junior Portfolio seminar, in which students plan for their futures as artists and designers, as well as team-teaches one of Freshman Foundations art courses and one of the University's Liberal Arts Studies course, "Contemplation & Action."

Recently, Peter collaborated with Studio Angelico's Assistant Professor of Art Mad Mohre to present a paper on "Purposeful and Ethical Innovation in the Remix Era," at the Foundations: Art and Theory in Education conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

Click here to see his award-winning website about historic architecture in Adrian, Michigan featuring essays by several of Barr's students:



I strive to create learning environments that help students develop historical perspective, visual literacy, critical thinking, communication skills, and a creative and purposeful direction.

The discipline of art history more closely resembles detective work than a lecture. The former is much more mysterious, fun, engaging and intellectual. I want students to understand the challenges and pleasures of looking at, researching, and thinking about art. When I develop courses or revise them, I am constantly experimenting with new methods of instruction that provide opportunities for students of various skill-levels, learning styles, and interests to find out about both the history of art and the discipline of art history.

I attempt as much as possible to design courses that ask students to:

  • participate in discussions analyzing works of art

  • visit regional museums, including the nearby Toledo Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Art and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

  • act out artworks physically, for example: to stand as a figure stands in Polykleitos's Spearbearer

  • search for information about works of art online and in the library

  • connect disparate bits of information into a conceptual whole

  • collaborate with others

  • read challenging essays by some of the key scholars in the field

  • consider the subjectivity inherent in historical pursuits

  • debate significant issues within the discipline of art history, and

  • think for themselves.

Recently one of my former students summed it up this way:

I would personally like to thank my art history teacher for teaching me how to think critically, write properly, view objects and situations in terms of context and understand how ideas can be built on and influence the future. Oh, and all that stuff about art in the past. You’re awesome, Dr. Barr!