Art Conservation / Art Appraisal

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 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 the art historical environment surrounding the care and condition of artworks, offering them a new, interactive perspective on the context of cultural objects and the ethical considerations that go into conserving them.

This course is taught by an expert conservator and a professional appraiser. Both instructors provide exclusive insight into these unique professions and the skill sets needed for them, and each week of study culminates in a final project that helps students practice evaluating artwork condition and value.


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 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
  • 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


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 2 July 21 to August 2

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

View Summer Schedule

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 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.

  • 2

    Students work directly with real works of art and scientific tools such as microscopes to develop condition reports and practice the fundamentals of scientific analysis used in art conservation.

  • 3

    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 thoroughly 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.

  • 4

    Students visit Sotheby’s auction house to see how appraisal factors into the everyday workings of sale preparation by meeting with specialists and getting a behind-the-scenes tour.

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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