Art History

Journey through the history of western art: explore masterpieces of art and architecture from antiquity to the present day, using a variety of spectacular online resources.


This online course will explore the major artists, movements, cultures, and ideas that have shaped the history of Western art through a combination of lectures and virtual tours of international museums and architectural monuments. In a dynamic online learning environment that balances live sessions with interactive activities, students will engage in an intensive study of famous works of art, art historical movements, and architecture.


Students will start by studying antiquity through virtual guided tours of the Acropolis Museum in Athens and other ancient Greek and Roman monuments. Through interactive online visits, students will learn about art from the medieval through the Gothic periods via cathedrals in France; the art of the Renaissance, Baroque, and Enlightenment at The Louvre and The Hermitage; and Impressionism through Modernism at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Students will also explore contemporary art through online viewing experiences curated by famous international art galleries and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Over the course of this journey, students will gain a framework for understanding different styles and concepts that have shaped the history of western art as well as the hot topics that remain important to artists today.


Virtual site visits may include:

• Global museums, such as The Acropolis Museum in Athens
• Medieval Gothic Cathedrals in France
• The Louvre museum in Paris
• The Metropolitan Museum of Art & The Cloisters in New York
• The Museum of Modern Art in New York
• The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
• The Musée d’Orsay in Paris
• The Guggenheim-Bilbao Museum in Spain
• The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia
• Online viewing rooms at world-renowned art galleries, such as David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, and White Cube
• Artists’ studios


Global guest speakers may include:

• Museum curators
• Art History scholars
• Gallery owners
• Art critics
• Artists


Self-paced activities and projects may include:

• Creating and naming your own online museum, choosing from more than one hundred thousand digitized works of art to design and curate your own exhibition
• Writing an essay on a favorite work of art from an art historical period of your choosing to present in class, demonstrating knowledge of the style, significance, and cultural events of the period
• Self-paced studio time to practice drawing, collage, and other techniques in exercises designed for both beginning and experienced artists



  • Heather Cotter is an art historian and museum educator with a long history of teaching in museums. She has worked at such prestigious institutions as the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She is currently an educator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she teaches courses on modern and contemporary art, both in person and online. She is also an adjunct faculty member at SUNY-Purchase and Sotheby’s Institute of Art-New York where she teaches courses in art history and museum studies. Cotter taught Art History for Sotheby’s Summer Institute-Pre College in 2019.



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 8 to June 19 Term Closed
  • Term 3 July 6 to July 17 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 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 take interactive virtual tours of museums, galleries, and architectural monuments to learn firsthand about major artists, architects, and art movements. Students will interact online with guest speakers to gain a behind-the-scenes look at how major art institutions operate in a dynamic global market.

  • 2

    Students will hear from scholars, curators, and gallery owners about the different cultural influences that determine which art, artists, and art movements are considered important and worthwhile at different points in time.

  • 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 and analyze great masterpieces from antiquity to the present through virtual guided tours of some of the top art museums in the world.

Summer Institute Faculty

Our instructors are award-winning Sotheby's Institute faculty, recognized thought leaders and professional experts in the international art world who have extensive online teaching experience. 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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