We award Fellowships to promising and established art historians working in the academy or in museums, to critics and other art writers, and to practitioners in other disciplines who are pursuing work that exhibits a critical commitment to inquiry in the analysis, history, theory, or interpretation of visual phenomena.

International Initiatives

The Clark, with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, holds a variety of colloquia, workshops, and seminars focused on issues critical to the discipline of art history: the pressing intellectual issues with which art historians must deal, what they teach and publish, and the ways in which their work drives and responds to histories of art produced by museums. A critical goal of this initiative has been to expand the geographies of art history by cultivating international collaborations. By partnering with institutions and scholars in Latin America, southern Africa, East-Central Europe, and the Indian Ocean region, the Research and Academic Program is engaging with approaches to the discipline that have challenged comfortable notions about how art history is written, with the goal of illuminating the variety of ways in which visual topics are addressed around the globe. This initiative is an ongoing activity, and new collaborations among regional partners have begun to take shape as a result of the Clark’s involvement.

Alternative Histories


“Alternative Histories” is a research initiative supported by a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  This initiative was conceived to bring to bring together scholar working on Latin American art “Across the Americas” and to produce new networks of exchange around art historical matters both material and methodological.

  • Academic Forms Across the Americas
Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 11–13, 2016
Hosted by Instituto de Alos Estudios Sociales, Universidad Nacional de San Martin

The Trade Routes of Art History


“Trade Routes” is a research initiative supported by a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This initiative was conceptualized around waterways and maritime routes in order to investigate different modes of art and architectural production, reception, and dissemination in regions connected through the Indian Ocean.

Academic Programs

Clark Conferences (and the corresponding volumes published as Clark Studies in the Visual Arts), Clark Symposia, Clark Colloquia, Clark Conversations, and Clark Lectures address vital topics in the field and nurture a broader public understanding of visual art's role in culture.

Clark Studies in the Visual Arts

The Clark Studies in the Visual Arts series provides an international forum for scholars and museum professionals to confront the philosophical and political questions provoked by the study of the visual arts in culture. Based on the proceedings of the annual Clark Conferences, these important publications encourage an interdisciplinary exploration of issues that are timely, relevant, and even controversial.

Graduate Program in the History of Art

With Williams College, the Clark co-sponsors a Graduate Program in the History of Art, whose specialized course of study prepares students for professions in the academic and museum worlds.


About RAP

The Clark offers an independent Research and Academic Program (RAP) designed to encourage fresh approaches to the production of knowledge about all periods and genres of art, and particularly the objects, conditions, and issues they comprise.

RAP Leadership

Caroline Fowler is the interim director of the Research and Academic Program at the Clark. She works on intersections between intellectual history and artistic practice in the early modern period. Her first book, Drawing and the Senses: An Early Modern History, was published in the Harvey Miller Series in Baroque Art. And she has a book on the history of paper, The Art of Paper: From the Holy Land to the New World, forthcoming with Yale University Press. She also works on comparative histories of print culture, the philosophy of conservation, and the material historiography of art history.

Email: [email protected]

History of RAP

The Research and Academic Program (RAP) at the Clark began to take its current shape in the late 1990s, but its roots hark back to the earliest days of the museum. A commitment to academic research and scholarly study has been an integral part of the Clark’s mission since its founding in 1950, with the institution’s original charter directly stipulating “facilities for study and research in the fine arts.” The Clark library and the Graduate Program in the History of Art were founded over the ensuing decades, laying the groundwork for an even stronger institutional commitment to research and scholarship in the visual arts. In the 1990s, the Clark’s Board of Trustees authorized the development of a fellowship program for visiting scholars as well as a series of conferences and symposia. These programs expanded and coalesced into the Research and Academic Program we know today.

First under the direction of John Onians for nearly two years, and later Michael Ann Holly for fourteen years, then under Darby English, RAP has expanded its purview to include collaborations and research initiatives in Williamstown and around the globe, with leadership in art historical scholarship. The annual fellowship program has hosted more than 300 scholars since its founding. RAP’s rich academic events have brought nearly 1,000 scholars, curators, and educators to the Clark and beyond. In support of these programs, RAP has received generous support from a broad range of foundations and institutions. The Manton Foundation established an endowment in support of the program in 2007. The program’s directorship was endowed by the Starr Foundation in 2008. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Getty Foundation have both provided integral support for RAP’s international events and innovative programming.

In recent years, RAP has collaborated with a growing roster of partner institutions, including the Getty Research Institute, the Council of Library and Information Resources, and the Institut national d’histoire d’art (INHA), as well as research universities across Latin America, Eastern and Central Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Programs closer to home continue this international spirit, with scholars from five continents having come through the fellowship program on the Clark’s campus in Williamstown. Thanks to generous support and collaborative efforts, RAP’s commitment to intellectual engagement in the visual arts both at home and abroad will continue to thrive in the years to come.