Art History / Art Business

Understand the art world from all angles through a survey of art history, the art market, and the vibrant contemporary cultural scene of New York City.


Students enrolled in this Exploration course will survey the fields of art history, art business, and contemporary art, focusing on the complex and dynamic art scene in New York City today. Through visits to the city’s premier art institutions, students will gain unique insight into how art is conceptualized, created and traded in the epicenter of the global art industry. Behind-the-scenes access to museums, galleries, auction houses, and artists’ studios will offer students exclusive new perspectives into the fascinating choreography of the contemporary art market.


Designed and led by industry experts, our Exploration courses focus on the intersectionality between topics. This dynamic learning experience balances lectures, site visits, and world-class guest speakers to engage students in an exploration of their interests and foster their curiosity around a diverse selection of subject material. Our multidisciplinary and hands-on approach to learning encourages students to sample different fields and employ critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills.


Site Visits

Visits will include a combination of trips to major New York City art museums and galleries, as well as artists’ studios and other places related to art history, art business, and contemporary art.


In the past, site visits have included:

  • Sotheby’s auction house
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Museum of Modern Art
  • The Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Galleries, such as Gagosian and Hauser & Wirth
  • Art neighborhoods such as Chelsea, Bushwick, and Tribeca
  • Contemporary artist studios


Guest Speakers

Students will hear firsthand from art historians, gallerists, and art business professionals about the topics that shape our understanding of art history and art business.


In the past, guest speakers have included:

  • Museum curators and educators
  • Auction house experts
  • Gallerists
  • Art critics
  • Artists


Materials Fee: $245

Health Fee: $100


Please note: This information is subject to change at any time at the discretion of Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

Term Dates

Term dates and course availability depend heavily on instructors’ schedules.

  • Term 3 July 16 to July 28 Term Closed

All courses are open to rising 10th – 12th graders and graduating seniors. Explore the full summer schedule.

View Summer Schedule

What is an Exploration?

Explorations are designed to introduce students to three distinct topics in a two-week Institute term. This survey approach to learning enables students to make cross-disciplinary connections and informed decisions about their academic and career choices.

Course Highlights

Summer Institute enables students to dive deep into a course of study, sharpening skills for their academic and professional careers. Each course is carefully designed to suit student interests and encourage intellectual curiosity.

  • 1

    Students will get a taste of art history through guided tours of some of New York City’s top museums. Students will learn about major artists and art movements through visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Who decides which artists and artworks belong in museums? What makes art into art history?

  • 2

    Students will get an insider’s look into how the multibillion-dollar business of contemporary art operates by exploring today’s art market through visits to galleries, studios, and an auction house.

  • 3

    Students will get an insider’s look into how the multibillion-dollar business of contemporary art operates by exploring today’s art market through visits to galleries, studios, and an auction house.

  • 4

    Students will experience the contemporary art scene in New York firsthand. Students will learn the top names in current art movements at famous museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art or The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Students will also investigate the different types of media favored by contemporary artists, and dip into the world of emerging artists through a visit to an artist’s studio or by exploring neighborhoods that have been home to cutting-edge artists and galleries, such as Chelsea and Tribeca.

Summer Institute Faculty

Our instructors are award-winning Sotheby's Institute faculty, recognized thought leaders and professional experts in the art world. Each faculty member structures their course around real-time conversations defining their professions and helps students master the unique forces at play in the art world.

Summer Institute Faculty

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