History of Sotheby's Institute of Art
For over forty years, Sotheby’s Institute of Art has been preparing students for careers in the art world. Students get a rare inside look at the business of art while exploring both the scholarly and practical sides of the art world, including the skills and professional connections necessary for successful entry into many art professions. We have over 6,000 alumni worldwide, many of whom are working in a variety of art-related careers.
Formerly a part of Sotheby’s auction house, the Institute has always aimed to bring a true understanding of fine and decorative arts to a global audience, thereby enhancing individual appreciation and understanding of an essential part of civilisation. Over the years, the Institute has grown to increase its portfolio of courses and as the range of core courses expanded and the popularity of the courses grew, the demand for accreditation resulted in the University of Manchester in the UK recognising the high quality of teaching and the value of the Institute’s unique teaching approach. In 1995 Sotheby’s Institute of Art – London was granted the status of an Affiliated Institution of the University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology. It was the first education department of an auction house to be so closely associated with a university.
At the end of 2002, Sotheby’s sold its Institute to a US-based information and educational services firm, Cambridge Information Group (CIG), which retains the Sotheby’s name. Strong ties are still maintained, with Sotheby’s having members on the Sotheby’s Institute of Art - London advisory board, and students having unrivalled access to internships, auctions and exhibitions at Sotheby’s. In September 2006, the Institute broadened its course offerings in New York and in 2010 the New York Institute received degree-granting authority from the Regents of the state of New York. It has been an accredited member of the National Association of Art and Design since 1989.
The essence of the Institute’s teaching approach is to work directly with the art object so that students can develop a discerning and critical eye. This is a key differentiator in the Institute’s educational approach. This “hands-on” philosophy means that students learn through actual first-hand examination of works of art, design and craftsmanship in the galleries and museums of London and in private collections. The close examination at first hand of works of art is the cornerstone of the Institute’s approach to teaching – whether at postgraduate or undergraduate level.
Married to this academic study is the learning of business and professional skills specifically for the art world. Most courses have an art business component, and since the introduction of the MA in Art Business in 1998, Sotheby’s Institute of Art’s reputation has grown significantly in this area. The MA in Art Business makes it clear that working in the art market is very different from working in a conventional business world. Legal and ethical issues have become increasingly important, so an Art Law unit examines such problems as copyright and contracts between artists and dealers. Business planning, finance, investment and insurance are investigated. It is also designed to cater for the needs of business school graduates, because along with traditional business topics, specialised subjects include art law, and art valuation. Business training includes finance, investment and insurance, business communications and organisational behaviour, ethics and marketing art. The dynamics of the contemporary art market which performs very differently from that of traditional art is also examined as part of the course.
Our faculty are noted academics in their their field and many are also practising art professionals, writing art critical reviews on a regular basis, curating art exhibitions and offering professional advice such as in the field of art law.
We have campuses in London and New York. At each of our locations students find that our study programmes draw on each practical city’s art-rich environments and incorporate these into the curriculum. Study visits to the galleries, museums, auction houses, and artists’ studios in London and New York form an essential part of a student’s studies as well as talks and discussions by invited artists and art professionals.