Art History / Art Conservation / Art Appraisal

Go behind the scenes with a virtual tour of the conservator’s lab and explore the history, care, and valuation of art objects in a dynamic online learning environment.


Students enrolled in this online Exploration course will survey the fields of art history, art conservation, and art appraisal, focusing on how the history and condition of artworks influence both their physical care and their value in the global art market. Guided by expert educators and leaders in the field, our Exploration courses focus on the intersectionality between topics in a dynamic virtual environment that balances a variety of expert-led live sessions with self-paced modules. In this course, students will gain a behind-the-scenes perspective about the historical context of art objects, how those objects are preserved for future generations, and the key factors that professional appraisers use when determining the value of art in museums, galleries, auction houses, private collections, and more.


Our 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 course’s live video sessions and interactive activities will engage students in an exploration of their passions and help them prepare for college. The Explorations 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:

• Global museums, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre Museum in Paris, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
• Online viewing rooms at world-renowned art galleries, such as David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth
• Conservation labs at New York City museums, such as the Whitney Museum of American Art
• Behind the scenes at Sotheby’s auction house
• Artsy’s headquarters
• Art appraisal firms
• Artists’ studios


Global guest speakers may include:

• Museum curators
• Gallery directors
• Art conservators
• Art appraisers
• Art historians
• 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
• Researching and discussing scholarly sources on object care and preservation, such as peer-reviewed articles and conservation publications
• Researching the various factors involved in art valuation, including condition reports, auction history, and provenance



  • Giovanni Aloi is an art historian specializing in the history and theory of photography, representations of nature, and everyday objects in art. He has published with Columbia University Press and Phaidon. Aloi is a faculty member at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Sotheby’s Institute of Art, where he teaches both in person and online. Aloi studied art history in Milan before obtaining his postgraduate diploma in art history at Goldsmiths University in London, where he also earned a Doctorate. Aloi taught Art History for Sotheby’s Summer Institute-Pre College in 2019.
  • Maria Sancho-Arroyo brings over 25 years of international experience in the art world, including positions at the Louvre in Paris and at Sotheby’s Auction House in London. As an online and in-person faculty member at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, she has extensive knowledge of the virtual classroom space and taught Art Business for Sotheby’s Summer Institute Pre-College in 2019. Sancho-Arroyo holds an MA in museum management from L’Institut Nationale du Patrimoine and an MA in art history from the École du Louvre, both in Paris. She also holds a degree in chemistry and specialized in the scientific study of paintings at the conservation laboratory of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, Italy.
  • Emily Thompson is a Fine Art Specialist at Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance and its art advisory and appraisal firm, Fine Art Asset Management, with 20+ years of experience in art market research and valuation. Ms. Thompson has worked as a Senior Fine Art Appraiser at companies in the industry valuing artworks for the purpose of financial planning and donation, insurance coverage, and litigation support. Ms. Thompson is an IRS Qualified, and is a Certified Member of the Appraiser’s Association of America and an Associate Member of the Association of Professional Art Advisors. She graduated cum laude from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a BA in Art History, and holds a MA in Arts Administration from New York University.


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 4 July 20 to July 31 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

    Art History: Students will get a taste of art history through guided virtual tours of renowned art museums worldwide. Students will learn about major artists and art movements from antiquity to modernism through virtual visits to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre museum, and the Museum of Modern Art, with a focus on how objects were made differently at different times in history.

  • 2

    Art Conservation: Students will be introduced to the fascinating field of art conservation, which sits at the intersection of art history, chemistry, and studio art. Through behind-the-scenes virtual tours of conservation labs in museums and hearing presentations by top conservators, students will gain new perspective on the complex and dedicated process needed to preserve the condition of cultural objects for future generations.

  • 3

    Art Appraisal: In this module, students will hear insights from a professional appraiser and consider the many factors affecting how art is valued in a dynamic global market. Through online presentations and interviews with industry experts, students will learn how to properly research an object to determine market price. Building on their knowledge of art history and art conservation, students will learn to 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 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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