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Art History Abroad


Study art, architecture and European culture in Italy, France and London for a semester in the autumn, 6 weeks during the Gap Year or a 2-4 week Summer holiday course. Art History Abroad programmes are carefully structured and brilliantly taught so that art and culture come to life. We believe in a few simple truths: that art is best taught in the presence of the real thing and that tutor groups (of 9 students or fewer) should encourage discourse and expression. AHA tutors travel with the course, providing a friendly, enthusiastic approach, which has been an inspiration to countless students for 30 years. Open to students of all disciplines, students need only an enquiring mind.


The Red House
1, Lambseth Street
IP23 7AG
United Kingdom


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Yes, I recommend this program

The Art History Abroad Autumn European Gap Semester Program is a wonderfully enriching intellectual experience for gap year students. The Program's knowledgeable tutors teach the history of Europe not through dry lectures but through engaging and immersive "sessions" in which students get to interact with history in a first-hand manner through the art and architecture that they encounter. Art History Abroad also teaches students how to navigate life away from home effectively. The Gap Semester fosters a spirit of maturity in all Art History Abroad students. Aside from the appeal of the Gap Semester with respect to the growth of students, the 12 weeks students and tutors spend together in Europe are unbelievably enjoyable.

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Yes, I recommend this program

This semester was the best of my life. I had at least one moment every single day for three months where I could not believe where I was or what I was doing. The art and architecture we studied was EPIC and the people are EPIC. You learn how to see on this trip, observe and understand the world around you just a little bit more. It was so informative beyond studying art and history, you learn tons about yourself as well right in time before you head off to college or whatever's in store for you after high school. And the people are a constant source of giggles and inspiration. Go on this semester trip!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Meeting everyone the first day was scary, but those nerves disappear after the first night and you see how awesome everyone is.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I had an amazing two weeks on the AHA southern course! We saw the beautiful Naples and ended up visiting many towns in Sicily, a poorer part of Italy yet still so stunning, and full of incredible architecture as well as some breathtaking Caravaggio paintings. The tutors were incredible - so much fun but also so passionate and knowledgeable, full of information and fun facts about the art! I learned a huge deal of fascinating things but also made some amazing friends! I love history of art but it’s not something I’m thinking of studying, nonetheless I would recommend this course for anyone because with the art comes friendships, happiness and the building of a group. Thank you so much to AHA for a truly unforgettable course.

Anousha O’Malley

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Yes, I recommend this program

Before having found AHA, I had never been away from home without the company of friends or family. The idea of being on my own was a terrifying concept. But AHA changed that for me. I came into the program thinking I would fail. Instead, I succeeded in the best of ways. There was so much that made the trip extremely memorable. From the art, the tutors, and the other students, AHA made it their goal to help us have the best time possible. The tutors not only were supportive, but they were fun, happy and altogether fantastic. They were amazing teachers too, providing us with the necessary tools to be passionate about the art we saw while not pushing us in the way of exams or tests. They taught us simply for the love of learning. Also, the food was amazing. Every dinner was a new experience, and I never grew tired of eating pasta. AHA provided me, and I believe so many others, with the chance to experience art in a new and thought-provoking way. We had discussion-based sessions where students were encouraged to ask questions and speak out, while also having sessions where we would be able to draw and write about the art we saw.

There was so much to explore on this trip, so much to do and so much to learn. I would really recommend it for anyone looking to learn (for the sake of learning!) and to have fun. I’m so glad that I found AHA’s summer course, and if I could, I’d do it all over again.

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing at all. It was really one of the best experiences!
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Yes, I recommend this program

This program was wonderful and taught me a great deal about art history. All the tutors are immensely knowledgable, and having the opportunity to visit so many significant historical sites in person was an amazing experience. The course was also very fun socially, and provides a great opportunity to make lifelong friends. It is challenging and engaging, and is also a program that will certainly make anyone who takes it change as a person and grow. There were many different aspects of the course, and many different periods of art history were covered, making it quite expansive and informative. The quality of the information delivered by the tutors and the quantity of incredible sites that were in the itinerary, as well as the opportunities for social interaction made this a truly unforgettable program.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be sensible and aware of yourself and your surroundings, and savour the time that you have on the course, as it is an amazing once in a lifetime experience.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Lana Singer

Lana graduated high school in May 2016 and has taken a gap year before heading to university. She is interested in anthropology, history, art, and global cultures, and hopes to travel more in the near future.

Why did you choose this program?

Anyone can read about the works of Michelangelo or the ancient city of Pompeii, but AHA gave me the rare opportunity to see them in the flesh and form my own opinions about them.

I gained so much knowledge just from living the history over learning it in a classroom. And a chance to go to Italy for a month and a half - who could pass that up?

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I had a Gap Year advisor who directed me toward AHA when she learned of my interest in art and history. Most of the ground work to get me into the program was my own responsibility. I had to make sure I applied by the deadline, send in a deposit, and scan in any materials AHA needed for their records. I scheduled my own flights (although they gave us the opportunity to fly as a group from London), and budgeted myself (meals not included) throughout the program.

The actual sessions, including where we were going and what we were learning, were beyond my control. The tutors were more than happy to help us if we needed direction or had any issues.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Try something new every day. I didn't want to spend my gap year falling into the same routine I always have. I could have stayed at home for that. I would have missed out on so much had I not stepped out of my comfort zone and made each day a memorable one.

For example, I would have never sung in public before the trip. We took a nighttime gondola ride in Venice, and everyone on my boat was telling stories or making jokes. They asked me what I wanted to do, and I sang.

It was the most amazing feeling, and I remember savoring every moment because I knew I would never have this chance again.

For those on the fence about going abroad, I say (as someone who was also not certain about traveling) that the world has so much to offer you, and you would be doing a great disservice to yourself by not taking advantage of it.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Each day we had a morning session and an afternoon session. The sessions were somewhat like university lecture and discussion classes, where the tutors would explain the significance of the certain artwork, architectural design, or historical context we were studying that particular day.

We normally had quite a long lunch break, as well as leisure time before dinners. The evenings were mostly for us to explore whatever city we were in, and the tutors were very lax about how we spent our free time. We were all adults, and we were treated as such, with trust in our conduct and our capability to navigate ourselves without constant supervision.

We did have some days where we took trips outside of the host city (such as Pisa, Pompeii, Padua, and the islands of Burano and Murano outside of Venice). We also sometimes had free mornings or afternoons, where no sessions were planned and we were given the opportunity to take care of any personal business. Other than those occasional abnormalities, the itinerary was basically routine.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear initially was having to adjust to a completely different lifestyle than what I was used to. I had already been in Europe for over a month, working on archaeological digs in Romania. So, the shock of being away from home had left me long before my time with AHA had begun.

However, I had grown so accustomed to that way of living, I had no idea what to expect once I got to Italy. I had to adapt to a new language, new people, and a new side of Europe I was not familiar with.

I realized once I reached Italy that I couldn't just retreat into timidity because I was uncomfortable. I just took everything in stride and learned that even though I was in uncharted territory, it doesn't mean it would stay that way forever.

What made this experience special for you?

The people. I saw some of the most famous works of art in history, but there is no way I would have learned as much as I did if I had gone alone. There is immense value in seeing through someone else's eyes.

There were times when a fellow student caught a nuance in a painting or a sculpture that I would have never noticed. It is amazing how twenty-odd people can be looking at the exact same thing, and yet each person has a unique perspective to share.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Henry Tudor-Pole

Job Title
Henry has studied art at the Royal Drawing School, London, St. John's College, Oxford, and the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa. He continues to do so as a tutor with Art History Abroad.

What is your favorite travel memory?

It's got to be attending the New Generation Festival in Florence, an extravagant three-night celebration of music and theatre, with young performers and a young audience soaking up the atmosphere on the grounds of the Corsini Palace. One night, the concert went on to the Ognissanti church, and I don't think anyone sitting in that magical, Baroque interior was left with a dry eye.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Working with AHA has significantly developed me as a person in several respects. Of course, it has deepened my awareness of art and my sense of the past, but it has also built my confidence in small ways that are manifested in everyday life at home, which can be hard to describe. I am better at speaking to an audience and bringing the subject to life.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

One student became fascinated with Dante's Divine Comedy after encountering it on an AHA course and told the story back to me in a way that made me see it afresh. He then went on to take up cookery and invented a meal based on Dante's journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise! I can't imagine a more original interpretation.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would choose the Southern Italy program, for the chance to learn more about the Kingdom of Sicily. I am fascinated by the hotbed of cultural exchange that was twelfth-century Sicily, and also by the sultry chaos of modern Palermo and Naples. There is an epic, romantic quality to the south that I find appealing. The food is not bad, either.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

To be part of a team like AHA's is a constant source of delight. I can't imagine many companies are so warm and decent at every level of the organization, and I feel lucky to be a part of it. I felt proud of the team when we got together in London to see another tutor playing a gig in Shepherd's Bush.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Probably it's to do with giving students the opportunity to grow in their own ways and according to their own will and not along with a set of predetermined rails. The company sets up the conditions in which students can have an enriching experience, at which point it is exciting to see what they are able to make of it.

US visitors, meet us in person!

  1. Thursday 20 February
    La Jolla, CA Gap Year Fair
    La Jolla High School
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  2. Saturday 22 February
    Davis, CA Gap Year Fair
    Davis Senior High School
    1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  3. Sunday 23 February
    Danville, CA Gap Year Fair
    The Athenian School
    1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Professional Associations

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