At its founding in 1919, UCLA (then called the Southern Branch) demonstrated its commitment to the music and the arts. The campus started with an art gallery and a music department that focused on music education. By 1960, there were departments of art, dance, music, and theater arts, operating under what was then known as the College of Fine Arts. At that time, ethnomusicology and musicology were disciplines within the music department, which had expanded to include many areas of music, including performance, composition, and music education.
By the 1980s, academic programs in the arts begin to reorganize. Ethnomusicology and musicology were evolving into full-fledged programs and in 1988 each separated from the music department, while design and art history also formed separate departments from art. Two of the four (art history and musicology) transferred to the Humanities Division in the College of Letters and Science, while design and ethnomusicology remained in the College of Fine Arts.