Art History

Journey through the history of art: explore masterpieces of global art and architecture from antiquity to the present day, using New York City as your campus.


This course will explore the major artists, movements, cultures, and ideas that have shaped the history of art. Through a combination of lectures and tours of New York City’s museums and architectural monuments, students will engage in an intensive study of famous works of art, art historical movements, and global cultures. This unique course will guide students on a journey through some the most compelling examples of human creativity worldwide. Site visits and behind-the-scenes access will provide unique opportunities to explore art and art history in a way that only this city can offer.


Students will begin in the ancient world with a visit to the famed Egyptian Temple of Dendur at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and continue through the museum’s collection of statues from Greece and the Roman Empire. Students will then learn about the Byzantine Empire and cross the Bosphorus to explore Islamic art from the Met’s glittering collection of manuscripts, ceramics, jewelry, and textiles. Visits to The Cloisters and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine will bring to life the soaring achievements of European Gothic architecture and art from the medieval period. Students will investigate the art of the Renaissance, Baroque, and Enlightenment through an exploration of the Frick Collection, while also considering some of the great monuments concurrently created by people across the Atlantic in Central and South America. Students will also engage with art spanning the great continent of Asia, including Japanese woodblock prints from the Edo period and Chinese ceramics. The course will move through Impressionism and Modernism at the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, with a focus on the rise of the modern metropolis through a walking tour of midtown Manhattan. Culminating in a study of contemporary art, students will make their final stops at the Whitney Museum of American Art and behind the scenes at famed New York City galleries. Over the course of this dynamic global journey, students will gain a new framework for understanding the different styles and concepts that have shaped the history of art.


Site Visits
Visits will include a combination of trips to major New York City art museums and architectural monuments, as well as art galleries and other places related to art history.


In the past, site visits have included:

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art & The Cloisters
  • The Museum of Modern Art
  • The Frick Collection
  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
  • The Whitney Museum of American Art
  • DIA: Beacon
  • Art galleries such as Gagosian and Hauser & Wirth


Guest Speakers
Students will hear firsthand from art historians, museum curators, and gallerists about the topics that shape our understanding of art history and contemporary art production.


In the past, guest speakers have included:

  • Museum curators
  • Art historians
  • Art critics
  • Architects
  • Gallerists
  • 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 1 June 18 to June 30 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 Intensive?

Intensives immerse students in a single subject area for the entire two-week Institute term, with the goal of cultivating comprehensive knowledge of that discipline. This thorough approach to learning enables students to develop deeper insights about the field by closely investigating its inner workings.

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 visit most of the major museums in New York City and learn firsthand about essential artists, architects, and art movements. There will also be time for guided explorations of the museum collections.

  • 2

    Students will hear from scholars, curators, and gallerists about the different cultural influences that determine which art, artists, and art movements are considered important and worthwhile at different points in time. How does art become art history?

  • 3

    The course is ideal for students who love art, architecture, and museums, and who want to expand their visual and cultural literacy. Students will learn how to identify different styles of art and architecture, to recognize the work of major artistic periods, and to understand the concepts associated with different art historical movements.

  • 4

    Students will examine firsthand great masterpieces from antiquity to the present in some of the top museums of New York City.

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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