The Department of Art and Art History at CSU has a long and rich history. In 1894, the institution authorized the development of the Domestic Economy Program, which later paved the way for the Art Department.

Theodosia Ammons became the first overseer of the Domestic Economics program at CSU, which launched during the 1895-96 school year. Ammons sought to provide the young women of Colorado with both practical skills and a well-rounded education within the College of Agriculture. The program offered lessons in cooking, chemistry, and bacteriology, along with courses in the applied arts, such as sewing, decorating, and paper arts.

By the early 1960’s, the Colorado College of Agriculture had become Colorado State University and members of the Domestic Economics Program, including Clara Hatton, sought to differentiate the studies of applied arts and fine arts. This began the development of what would become The Department of Art and Art History at CSU, with Hatton serving as the first chair of the department. Hatton served as chairwoman of the Department until her retirement in 1966 after 30 years of service to Colorado State University.

Originally, CSU’s Department of Art  was housed in the Old Main building on campus. Tragedy struck in the spring of 1970 when Old Main was burned to the ground in an act of suspected arson – the culminating event to a year of social tension and upheaval in Fort Collins and across the nation.

After the destruction of Old Main, the Art Department required a new home. Students, parents, and faculty began petitioning for the creation of a separate Visual Arts building. Construction of the Visual Arts Building began in 1973, and saw its first operational school year in 1975.

The Visual Art Building continues to house the Department of Art which was officially renamed The Department of Art and Art History in 2014. Today, The Department of Art and Art History offers studio arts, art history, and art education to hundreds of students each year.


Below, you will find a video outlining some key points in the Department’s history: