President Obama Apologizes for Comment Disparaging Art Historians

President Obama signing a document.

In late January U.S. President Barack Obama earned the ire of art historians everywhere with a comment he made during a speech about vocational training in Wisconsin. “A lot of young people no longer see the trades and skilled manufacturing as a viable career, but I promise you, folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree,” he said, according to Politico. One art historian, the University of Texas at Austin’s Professor Ann Collins Johns, responded by sending an email through the White House’s website, explaining to the President the value of an art history degree.

Professor Johns never expected Obama to respond, but, as Hyperallergic’s Alicia Eier reports, he answered her in a handwritten note that was then scanned and emailed to her. It begins:

Ann —

Let me apologize for my off-the-cuff remarks. I was making a point about the jobs market, not the value of art history. As it so happens, art history was one of my favorite subjects in high school, and it has helped me take in a great deal of joy in my life that I might otherwise have missed.

Read the full note here.

—Benjamin Sutton

(Photo: Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House. Via Wikimedia Commons.)

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