Art History / Art Conservation / Art Appraisal

Go behind the scenes of a conservator’s lab through a virtual tour, and explore the history, care, and valuation of art objects in a dynamic online learning environment.


Students enrolled in this online Exploration course will survey the fields of art history, art conservation, and art appraisal, focusing on how the history and condition of artworks influence both their physical care and their value in the global art market. Guided by expert educators and leaders in the field, our Explorations courses focus on the intersectionality between topics in a dynamic virtual environment that balances a variety of expert-led live sessions with self-guided modules. In this course, students will gain a behind-the-scenes perspective on the historical context of art objects, how those objects are preserved for future generations, and the key factors professional appraisers use when determining the value of art in museums, galleries, auction houses, and private collections.


A multidisciplinary approach to learning encourages students to sample different fields and employ critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. Designed and led by industry experts with extensive online teaching experience, the virtual learning environment balances live sessions with different types of interactive activities to engage students in an exploration of their passions and help them prepare for college. The Exploration program is curated to give students a newfound sense of direction for their future studies by shedding light on a diverse selection of subject material.


Virtual site visits may include:

  • Iconic museums such as the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
  • The art conservation lab at The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York
  • Online viewing rooms of top international galleries, such as Hauser & Wirth and Pace Gallery
  • Sotheby’s auction house
  • An art appraisal firm
  • Artists’ studios


Guest speakers may include:

  • Art appraisers
  • Museum curators
  • Gallery directors
  • Art conservators
  • Art historians


Projects may include:

  • Curating a hypothetical museum exhibition that addresses newfound ways of opening up the art historical canon
  • Examining a forged painting held in a museum’s collection, and learning how it was discovered to be a fake
  • Researching the various factors involved in art valuation, including condition reports, auction history, and provenance


Tech Fee: $75


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 4 July 19 to July 30 Term Closed

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

    Art History: Students will get a taste of art history through guided virtual tours of renowned art museums worldwide. Students will learn about major artists and art movements from antiquity to modernism through virtual visits to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre museum, and the Museum of Modern Art, with a focus on how objects were made differently at different times in history.

  • 2

    Art Conservation: Students will be introduced to the fascinating field of art conservation, which sits at the intersection of art history, chemistry, and studio art. Through behind-the-scenes virtual tours of conservation labs in museums and hearing presentations by top conservators, students will gain new perspective on the complex and dedicated process needed to preserve the condition of cultural objects for future generations.

  • 3

    Art Appraisal: In this module, students enter the mindset of a professional appraiser and consider the many factors affecting how art is valued in a dynamic global market. Through online presentations and interviews with industry experts, students learn how to properly research an object to determine market price. Building on their knowledge of art conservation, students understand and analyze the impact that the condition of an object can have on its value.

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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