Museums / Galleries / Auction Houses

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


Students enrolled in this Explorations course will survey museums, galleries, and auction houses through the lens of the City’s most important art institutions. In doing so they will gain a thorough understanding of the connection between art and where it lives. Guided by expert faculty and professionals in the field, our Explorations courses focus on the intersectionality between topics. In this course students will explore New York City, one of the world’s most dynamic cultural epicenters, offering endless opportunities for students to critique, discuss and observe how art lives in its many institutions.


This multidisciplinary approach to learning encourages students to sample different fields and employ critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. The program is geared toward students eager to discover their passions, try something new and prepare for college. From site visits and excursions to lectures by expert practitioners, 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.


Site visits may include:

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Frick Collection
  • The Noguchi Museum
  • Sotheby’s auction house
  • Swann auction galleries
  • David Zwirner
  • Gagosian
  • Hauser & Wirth


Guest speakers may include:

  • Museum curators
  • Museum registrars
  • Art dealers
  • Gallery owners
  • Auction house specialists
  • Art lawyers
  • Artists


Materials Fee: $195


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 Grades 10 - 12 June 9 to June 21

This summer, we’re offering 16 unique courses for Summer Institute students. Explore the full summer schedule to learn more about course dates and grade eligibility.

View Summer Schedule

What is an Exploration?

Explorations 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

    Museums: New York City is home to over 75 art museums with diverse missions and of various sizes. Supported by individuals, public funds and/or corporate donors, museums often have education as the common thread in their missions to make their collections accessible to everyone. By visiting and studying a range of museums, 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: from the curators who conceptualize and develop the shows 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.

  • 2

    Galleries: There are hundreds of galleries throughout the City’s neighborhoods and boroughs, such as Chelsea, the East Village, Harlem, Midtown, Brooklyn, the Upper and Lower East Sides. These galleries vary as much in size as they do in the artists they represent, their focus, clientele, and more. In visiting galleries students will learn about the commercial aspects of evaluating art and will hear firsthand from dealers, art advisors, and marketing staff about how galleries work for artists, the public, and for collectors. Students will also learn about the relationship between the gallery’s neighborhood with its artists, programming, and overall identity.

  • 3

    Auction Houses: Viewing art at an auction is often compared to a sporting event in terms of pace and energy. The event of an auction is exciting for both the spectator and the collector, but auction houses are much more than the experience of live auctions. Students will visit 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. Auctioneers, lawyers, and other specialists who operate either behind the scenes or before the public will guide students through the complexity of the New York City auction house.

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.

Sign up for updates about our programs, courses and events.