Art History

Journey through the history of Western art: explore masterpieces of 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 Western art through a combination of lectures and tours of New York City museums and architectural monuments. Site visits and behind-the-scenes access will provide unique opportunities to explore famous works of art and architecture in a way that only this city can offer.

Students will start by studying the antiquities collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, from the famed Egyptian Temple of Dendur to Greek and Roman statues. Students will learn about art from the medieval through the Gothic periods at The Cloisters and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine; the art of the Renaissance, Baroque, and Enlightenment at The Met and The Frick Collection; Impressionism through Modernism at the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the rise of the modern metropolis through a walking tour of midtown and a visit to the Empire State Building; and contemporary art at the Whitney Museum and by going behind the scenes at New York City galleries. 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.


Site Visits
Visits will include a combination of trips to major New York City art museums and architectural monuments, as well as artists’ studios and other places of business related to contemporary art practice and art markets.


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
  • DIA: Beacon
  • New York City art galleries, such as Gagosian and Hauser & Wirth


Guest Speakers
Students will hear first-hand from art historians, museum curators, and gallery owners about the topics that shape our understanding of art history and contemporary art production.


In the past, guest speakers have included:

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


Materials Fee: $250


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 3 July 5 to July 17

This summer, we’re offering 14 unique courses for Summer Institute students. All courses are open to rising 10th – 12th graders and graduating seniors. Explore the full summer schedule to learn more about course dates.

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 museums, galleries, and architectural monuments to learn first-hand about major artists, architects, and art movements. Visits will include a trip to a museum located in upstate NY and going behind the scenes to meet curators, gallery owners, and artists.

  • 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. 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 first-hand great masterpieces from antiquity to the present in some of the top museums of the 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

Experience New York

  • New York City New York City

    With New York City as their campus, students will have access to all the city has to offer, attending field trips, site visits and special events.

  • Speaker Series Speaker Series

    Summer Institute students have unique opportunities to connect with the most accomplished artists and art professionals working today.

  • Housing Housing

    Summer Institute students have the option of living on campus in the university dormitories or commuting to class from their local residence.

  • Dining Dining

    University cafeteria-style dining halls serve a wide variety of healthy alternatives for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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