Art Conservation / Art Appraisal

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Go behind the scenes in a conservator’s lab and explore the history, care, and valuation of art objects in a hands-on learning environment.


This Exploration course will survey the fascinating ways in which cultural objects are conserved, studied, and appraised. Students will gain exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to museum conservation labs and hear from experts about how art objects—ranging from ancient ceramics to post-war paintings—are preserved for future generations. Professional appraisers will teach students the key factors used when determining the value of art in museums, galleries, auction houses, and private collections. Students will also study art history through the lens of artwork care and condition, offering them a new, interactive perspective on the context of cultural objects.


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 other places related to art history, art conservation, and art appraisal.


In the past, site visits have included:

  • Sotheby’s auction house
  • The Brooklyn Museum Conservation Lab
  • The Whitney Museum of American Art Conservation Lab
  • Art appraisal firms
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  •  The Museum of Modern Art
  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • The Frick Collection
  • Art galleries and art gallery neighborhoods
  • Artists’ studios


Guest Speakers

In the past, guest speakers have included:

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

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 tours of some of New York City’s top art museums. Students will learn about major artists and art movements from antiquity to modernism through visits to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, with a focus on the materiality of objects at different points in history.

  • 2

    Students will be introduced to the fascinating field of art conservation, which sits at the intersection of art history, chemistry, and studio art. By visiting museum conservation labs and hearing from top conservators in New York City, students will gain new perspective on the complex and dedicated process needed to preserve cultural objects for future generations.

  • 3

    In this module, students enter the mindset of a professional art appraiser and consider the many factors affecting how cultural objects are valued in a dynamic global market. With the help of industry experts, students learn how to properly research an object to determine its 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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