Support, Discover, Love Art

5 Amazing Free Resources to Learn Art History

05 Sep 2021 | 0 Comments

For most of history, if you wanted to become an expert in the History of Art you had to be filthy rich. You either had to come from a wealthy family who would send you off on The Grand Tour around Italy, or you had to go to prestigious schools and universities.


However, thanks to the internet, you can now become an expert in almost anything (including Art History) without paying a penny! All you need is dedication, a little bit of time, and a curious mind.


And so that you can spend more of your precious time learning and less time Googling, we’ve put together a handy guide with some of our favourite FREE resources to help you learn everything there is to know about one of the world’s most endlessly fascinating and important subjects – the History of Art.  




Tate is one of the world’s most well-known museum groups, housing a collection of more than 20 million pieces – spanning the history of not only British Art, but an increasingly diverse and global outlook too.


Tate’s online resources are some of the most comprehensive digital collections in the world – with everything from Glossaries for artistic terms, through to podcasts, articles, and videos.


You can even virtually visit several their galleries via their website. Their team specially curate a number of artworks for you to explore online, whereby you can simply click on an artwork to reveal more information about its significance.


Great Art Explained


Sometimes you just want to sit back and absorb the information, without feeling like you’re doing too much work... and thankfully, Great Art Explained is here to help you achieve just that.


In fact, sometimes the best way to learn is to through entertainment. As Alfred Mercier, the American poet once said, ‘What we learn with pleasure, we never forget.’


Indeed, the reason that you don’t have to feel like you’re having to do much work, is because James Payne (the channel’s creator) puts in weeks of hard work and effort into each and every video!


Each lesson is just 15 minutes long, meaning there’s more than 5 hours-worth of content for you to sink your teeth into – with more videos being uploaded every month.


So, sit back, make yourself a drink and soak in everything you need to know about some of art history’s most important artists and their work.


Art History Teaching Resources


Now, this is one of the slightly more information heavy resources available... but that’s by no means a negative as far as we’re concerned!


In fact, the platform was set up to enable Art History teachers and lecturers access to the latest insights and information from other leading thinkers, educators, and academics in the field.


This means that the site is jam-packed with incredibly detailed, and thorough university-level research – which you can enjoy completely for free!  


So, don’t be put off that this may appear to be a resource for teachers of the subject. After all, it means that you can cut out the middleman and teach yourself!


They not only provide thorough written histories of art from all over the world, as far back as 32,000 BC (a mind-bendingly long time ago!), but they also have reading lists of recommended books, podcasts, and links to other digital learning resources for even further learning.




Like the Tate’s online resources, ArtUK has a plethora of tools to suit whatever your learning style might be.


Whether you enjoy listening to podcasts, watching videos, or simply just scrolling through endless lists of artworks, seeking out those of interest and finding out everything there is to know about them.


Their digital collection of more than a quarter of a million of the UKs publicly owned art collections provide ample opportunity to learn about and explore almost every aspect of art history in one single place.


What’s more, you can do so in the knowledge that you might even be readily able to get up close and personal and see these artworks in the flesh – given the fact that they’re technically owned by all of us!


You can search by all sorts of different categorisations, whether that be location, style, subject matter, or time-period. They also have a great glossary of terms and a backlog of thousands of articles and videos to get your teeth stuck into.




SmARThistory is another incredible resource that contains a wealth of university-level education for free.


Claiming to be the most visited art history resource in the world, with more than 500 contributors from hundreds of colleges, universities, museums, and galleries around the world, it’s certainly one of the most comprehensive resources out there.


You can explore everything from the history of ancient Polynesian art to contemporary digital art – with essays and video content available to suit your learning style.


However, some of our favourite resources within smARThistory are their Guided Learning tools. These give a great introduction to the practise of actually looking at, understanding, and in many ways, reading art the art you see in front of you.


After all, the real reason why anyone wants to learn about the history of art is so that they can engage with and understand it – especially when they’re visiting a museum, gallery, or even looking at it in their home.


It’s a skill that takes a combination of time, practice, and a solid knowledgebase from which to draw insight from. But it’s one that can’t be overlooked when it comes to learning about the History of Art.




For more content like this, as well as our own regular blog posts exploring some of art history’s most interesting, important, and exciting stories and people, make sure to create an account and sign up to our mailing list!