Museums / Galleries / Auction Houses

Explore the three major sectors of art business — museums, galleries, and auction houses — to get an insider’s look at what each contributes to and how they influence the dynamic global art world.


Students enrolled in this online Exploration course will survey art business through the lens of the world’s most important art institutions – museums, galleries, and auction houses – to gain a thorough understanding of the connection between art and where it is traded. In a dynamic virtual environment that balances a variety of expert-led live sessions and self-guided modules, students will explore these three major pillars of the international art world while learning to observe, critique, and discuss how global perceptions of art are formed through the influence of these institutions.


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:

  • World-class museums, such as the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Rijksmuseum
  • Online viewing rooms of top international galleries, such as David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth
  • A behind the scenes look at Sotheby’s auction house
    Virtual art fairs from around the world


Guest speakers may include:

• Museum curators
• Art dealers
• Gallery owners
• Auction house specialists
• Online art business specialists, including online art auctions
• Social media strategists
• Art lawyers
• Artists


Projects may include:

  • Creating your own online art museum, and choosing from more than one hundred thousand digitized works of art to curate an exhibition in this new institution.
  • Using a hypothetical budget of five million US dollars, go on a virtual art shopping spree at international galleries and present the works along with research relevant to the artists and their markets.
  • Observing a livestreamed contemporary art auction and making real-time calculations of buyers’ premiums and commission to understand the final price of a work of art in the secondary market.


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 1 June 7 to June 18 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

    By studying global museums through virtual guided tours, students will learn techniques and tips for approaching art while also looking at the various staff roles that enable a museum to fulfill its mission of making their collections accessible: from the curators who conceptualize the exhibitions to the registrars who source and secure the art; from the development team who ensures the museums’ funding to the docents who volunteer their time to educate the public. Students will also learn about how museums have adapted to the digital world.

  • 2

    Through virtual visits to international galleries led by owners and directors, students will learn about the commercial aspects of evaluating art and will hear firsthand about how galleries work for artists, the public, and for collectors, both in person and online.

  • 3

    Students will interact virtually with auction houses small and large, looking specifically at how art moves through them, beginning with how works arrive and ending with how works exit through the public sale, which is often compared to a sporting event in terms of pace and energy. Auctioneers, lawyers, and other specialists who operate either behind the scenes or before the public will guide students through the complexity of the international auction world.

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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