Students in German Art History HU 4841 got to experience art in the best way possible: up close and personal in museums in Germany and Austria.  

The German Art History course examines the history of visual art (with an emphasis upon German art) from the Renaissance through the late 20th century and includes a short-term study abroad component over winter break. Dr. Patrick Jung, Humanities, Social Science and Communication Department, teaches the course.  

The trip included stops in Vienna, Austria and Munich, Germany with group museum visits as well as opportunities for students to choose their own extracurricular activities and excursions each day. In Vienna, the museums included the Belvedere and Schönbrunn Palace. In Munich, the group visited the Pinakothek der Moderne, the Alte Pinakothek, the Nymphenburg Palace, and the Lenbachhaus.  

“Students see some of the greatest art treasures in world that are not simply photographs on a page or computer,” said Jung. “There is a great spiritual satisfaction knowing you are standing in front of original works by Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer, or walking through the grand salon of the Hapsburg emperors in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.”  

Not only do students get to enjoy first-hand looks at the works of art they discussed in class, but they also gain valuable experiences traveling abroad and learning about new cultures. “For many of them, it is their first international experience, so they get to see how differently people live in other parts of the world,” explained Jung.  

This was true for industrial engineering senior Abbey Ranalli who enjoyed learning about European culture. “I learned that they don’t use ice in their drinks—and I love ice so it was hard to get used to! I also was surprised you have to pay for some public bathrooms. And they don’t use a lot of plastic, which was cool to see.”  

Margaret Dwyer, Humanities, Social Science and Communication Department, joined the group as a chaperone and emphasized the importance of the connections students make between art and history.  

“German history, from the imperial Austrian palaces and dynasties through the horrors of the Nazi period, forces students to consider the choices people make about the world we live in. You cannot visit the Concentration Camp Memorial Park at Dachau without questioning the ethics of ordinary citizens and reflecting on our own choices,” said Dwyer.  

Outside of the museum visits, Ranalli’s favorite part was visiting Salzburg where she got to see the fortress where the Sound of Music was filmed, toured Mozart’s childhood home, and saw the Alps in the distance. “The views were insane. I’ve never experienced anything like that,” said Ranalli.  

Each stop on the trip gave Ranalli a new appreciation for the art that covered each space. “I learned a lot about the influence and impact of art and what it truly meant to people in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries,” said Ranalli.  

Jung has been leading these trips since 2013–14 (minus one year due to the pandemic) with a total of 177 students participating over the years. This year’s trip included 28 students plus Jung and Dwyer as chaperones. Seven MSOE students who are currently studying abroad at MSOE’s partner school in Lübeck, Germany met the group to celebrate New Year’s Eve together.