Loyola University Chicago

Fine Arts

Department of Fine and Performing Arts

Careers in Art History

Anquitarian Book Trade

Check out the Antiquarian Booksellers' Assocation of America, a trade organization associated with The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). Some requirements for this career track include:

  • B.A.; good knowledge of reference sources in art history, literature, and history
  • All languages are helpful
  • Research often necessary
  • Maximum involvement with people as customers and clients
  • Ability to work under pressure; good business sense

Artist Representative

Represent and promote artists and performers in dealings with current or prospective employers. Some requirements include: 

  • B.A. in art history or studio, or equivalent knowledge and experience
  • Languages usually unnecessary, unless working in an international venue
  • Some research of markets may be necessary
  • Some to frequent involvement with people
  • Business experience (marketing and sales), organizational skills, self-motivation, and a sensitivity to working with artists

Estate and Art Appraiser

There are several professional organizations for appraisers, including the Appraisers Association of America, which maintains a list of appraisers, American Society of Appraisers, which has a Job Bank its website, and the International Society of Appraisers which is the largest professional organization dedicated solely to qualified and credentialed personal property appraisers in North America. Uniform standards applicable to a wide range of objects and real property are also developed and maintained by The Appraisal Foundation.

The Art Institute of for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, or AIC, maintains an on-line resource called CoOL. An article by Valentine Walsh, a conservator based in London, entitled "What Can Conservators Do?" gives some idea of the processes involved in painting conservation, in particular.

Some requirements of this career track include:

  • B.A. or beyond in art history with special training in conservation and restoration; many graduate programs are awarding an MA or certificate in art conservation (Programs are available at NYU, SUC at Buffalo, University of Delaware and Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario)
  • Languages may be useful
  • Research oriented
  • Some involvement with people
  • Good background in organic and inorganic chemistry and physics, as well as studio techniques; manual deterity, attention to detail

Art Law and Art Law Enforcement

Art Law: There are a variety of volunteer lawyers organizations which are dedicated to helping artists, one example is the New York VLA. There is a not-for-profit California association for art lawyers. There is also a New York-based artist's rights organization, the Artists' Rights Society,  which is involved in insuring that copyright is respected and artist's fees are collected. Some requirements for this career track include:

  • B.A. and/or M.A. in art history; JD possibly in contract law (Columbia University has a Center for Law and the Arts)
  • No languages necessary
  • Research oriented
  • Some involvement with people
  • Good business and communication skills

Art Law Enforcement: The FBI maintains a 12-person Art Crime Team which investigates art thefts and fraud. To see what their program consists of you can visit their website. There is also a very interesting site documenting art crimes and security issue by the Netherlands-based Museum Security Network. Some requirements for this career track include:

  • B.A. and/or M.A. in art history; possibly JD, and other skills needed for a career in law enforcement.
  • Depending on level language skills could be very necessary
  • Research oriented
  • Some involvement with people
  • Good communication skills, tenacity, attention to detail

Curatorial Consultant or Freelance Collection Manager

Working with a variety clients as a curator within the framework of freelance work. Some requirements for this career track include:

  • B.A.; M.A. or Ph.D may be helpful
  • Languages may be necessary depending on the nature of the collection
  • Research varies as per contents of the collection and owner/clients aims
  • Substantial involvement with people
  • Ability to interact with a variety of art professionals and to represent a client to them; ability to manage various jobs such as framing, shipping and installation on behalf of a client; ability to represent the best interests of the work of art to non-art professionals, such as a private or corporate collector, his/her family, and/or corporate staff at all levels of heirarchy, including insurers. Superior organizational skills. Attention to details, particularly in respect to record-keeping. Self-motivated and comfortable with the instability and freedom of freelance employment.

Publishing

Association of Art Editors maintains an informative website about an art historical career in publishing. Some requirements for this career track include:

  • B.A.; M.A. or Ph.D useful but not necessary (depending on the type of publisher, e.g. academic, commercial, independent; and position)
  • Languages often needed
  • Research depends on position; copy editor - none; editor - some; writer - a lot
  • Significant involvement with people
  • Business and/or graphic design skills along with good writing skills are useful or essential depending on position; possibility of free-lancing.

Architectural Conservation

Information about this field can be found through the The National Trust for Historic Preservation.Some requirements for this career track include:

  • B.A.; M.A. or beyond useful with a special knowledge of architectural traditions, including interior design; B.A. or M.A. in architecture and specialized training in conservation techniques for work at the highest level.
  • Languages only necessary as one is involved with international projects
  • Research often necessary
  • A great deal of involvement with people
  • Depending on whether one is working as a employee of a governmental office, a not-for-profit group, or as a private consultant, knowledge of the law, zoning ordinances, estimating procedures, etc., can be necessary. A certain amount of political savvy also is useful particularly if one is attached to a government agency or not-for-profit group.

Art Librarian

ARLIS maintains a job posting link and internship roster. ARLIS/NA has an Internship Award program. ARLIS/NA has this program will provide financial support for students preparing for a career in art librarianship or visual resource curatorship. Recognizing that practical experience is one of the most useful educational tools, this award currently (2008) provides $2500.00 to support a period of internship in an art library or visual resources collection for the recipient. The society also has a few awards available for students who wish to attend the annual conference. Requirements can include:

  • Usually M.A. in art history and MLS
  • French, German, and other languages often necessary
  • Some research covering a wide gamut of topics
  • Some to maximum involvement with people
  • Good communication and writing skills
  • Excellent administration/management skills
  • Computer and image technology skills
  • Attention to detail

Art Advisor

Check out the Association for Professional Art Advisors websitefor more information on this career track, including a list of members and contacts within the field.  

For additional information, The New York Times published two articles pertaining to Art Adivising in 2008 (click here) and 2015 (click here).

Arts Organization Consultant

See Adams and Goldbard Consultants and Slover Linnett Strategies for an illustration of the sorts of projects which can be undertaken. Some requirements include:

  • B.A.; MBA useful but not necessary
  • Languages rarely needed
  • Research depends on the assignment
  • Significant involvement with people
  • Business skills, familiarity with legal and political issues, good writing skills are essential; flexibility in working with a wide variety of clients.

Art Consultant: Hotels

For an example of a current art consultancy see Artefact Hotel Art Consultants. Some requirements include:

  • BA in art history, with an understanding and interest in architecture and interior design, including furniture.
  • Languages not necessary, though if you are interested in working for an international clientele and commissioning works from non-English speaking artists, then languages are very helpful.
  • Your will need to research various styles of art and be familiar with contemporary artists, in order to match work to location and client desires.
  • Maximum involvement with people. Good interpersonal skills are essential for interacting with both clients and artists.
  • One must be a self-motivated in order to identify potential projects and develop clients. Good business acumen. One should be able to interpret the desires of non-art-oriented clients, and be able to act as a bridge between artist and client. Excellent organizational skills with attention to detail paramount. Interest and openness to all types of artwork.

Art Gallery 

For profit - see below for non-profit, both Sotheby's and Christie's have websites.  For information about the Art Dealers Association of America (A.D.A.A.),  the National Art & Antiques Association of America (N.A.D.A.A.) and  New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) visit their websites.

There is also an international clearing house for art and antique dealer associations with the acronym CINOA which stands for Confédération Internationale des Negociants en Ouevre d'Art which will connect with professional organizations in 34 countries. Some requirements include:

  • B.A.; M.A. or Ph.D may be necessary depending on position and type of gallery
  • Languages may be useful
  • Depending on position can be research-oriented or not at all
  • Maximum involvement with people
  • Depending on position good business, marketing, communication and writing skills may be necessary; training in connoisseurship. There is an interesting article about new art dealers in the New York and environs in the January 23, 2004, edition of the New York Times, entitled "How an Art Scene Became a Youthscape."  This article indicates how some of the newer dealers came to the profession.  Most of them worked for established dealers before striking out on their own.  

Museum Work

Positions advertised in AVISOMERC and by the CAA. Additional information and copies of Aviso can be gotten by contacting the American Association of Museums, 1225 Eye St., NW, Ste. 200, Washington, D.C. 20005.

The AAM also has jobs listed on their website. Three other sources of information are Museum Job Resources On Line, a site about careers in the field with links to other resources, the Museum Resource Board, an on-line bulletin board with a museum locator, and limited listings of internships and museum positions, the American Alliance of Museums, and the Museum Studies site maintained by the Smithsonian Institution which has information relevant not only to Art Museums but many other types. The site of the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries - ACUMG - also occasionally publishes jobs.)

An interesting article on a "training program" for curators at the new founded Center for Curatorial Leadership preparing them to become museum directors was published by the New York Times on January 29, 2008. This article implicitly talks about the responsibilities of both curators and directors. An incredibly useful site for learning about various museum training programs and about the responsibilities of those involved in museum administration is maintained by the Smithsonian Institute. A listing of Museum Studies Programs is maintained by ACUMG under the section "Learn with us". Some requirements can include-

Curatorial (For information about the profession of art curator and a listing of positions see the site of the Association of Art Museum Curators [AAMC].)

  • Ph.D in art history normally expected, depending on the institution
  • German, French and/or other appropriate languages
  • Research oriented (may start out as research assistant)
  • Some involvement with people, ability to collaborate
  • Intellectual creativity and curiosity

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the follow numbers for May 2005 and May 2011 for employment and average salary for curators (which does not mean only art museum curators). 2005: 8790 jobs with an average pay of $49,180; 2011: 10340 jobs with an average pay of $53,540.

Art Investment

See article in the Wall Street Journal for February 3, 1998, p. A8, "Gallery Dealer Prepares to Start Fund To Invest in Prominent Works of Art.") (See also Art Appraisal entry) Another, perhaps not totally appealing aspect of art investment is the concept of an "Art Pawnshop" where art objects are used as collateral for major loans. On the "pawnshop" idea see the article which appeared in the New York Times on February 24, 2009. A good example of a firm which characterizes all of the various aspects of this career is Artvest. They were called on to do an independent evaluation of the collection of the Detroit Institute of Art during the bankruptcy proceedings in July 2014.

  • B.A. in art history; BBA and/or MBA (may wish to take an M.A. in art history, as well)
  • No languages necessary
  • Some research
  • Some involvement with people
  • Good business and investment skills; training in connoisseurship; good communication skills; familiarity with financial software; tolerance for risk.