Polemical views about different methods in art history have been highly popular since the very beginnings of the discipline. Such voices often happened to be both productive and controversial. A notworthey example constitutes the dialogue between Jacob Burckhardt and Heinrich Wölfflin on how to use psychology in art history.
This article does not contain any radical criticism of ideas or approaches, but rather invitation to discussion about the “barely new” way of thinking in art history. I will try to provide answer to the questions: do we need cognitive art history? What hides behind the mysterious word “cognitive” is the idea of formulating a new sub-discipline of art history. Of course, it is impossible to describe its program at once. My main goal is rather to show the importance of empirical research for art interpretation and analysis today. I will also try to identify certain boundary conditions which must be introduced to scholars from various disciplines so as to help them find common language.

The speech has been divided into four parts: the first one constitutes a brief historical overview of selected methods in art history that focus on perception. In the second part, I will try to present the most meaningful contemporary approaches to art history based on empirical research. The third part comprises a set of case studies about the usefulness of neuroscientific knowledge in analysis of performing art and exhibitions. The conclusion, provided in the last part of the text, contains a few methodological tips.