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What Degree Do I Need to Be an Art Broker?

by Teresa J. Siskin

While no specific major or degree is required for a career in art brokerage, what is most crucial is that you have a passion for art. This fascination for the field can be cultivated by majoring in related areas, such as fine arts, art history or arts administration or through working and interning within museums and galleries.

Fine Art Degree

A fine art major enhances your understanding of the broad range of artistic methods, while also honing your skill within a specific medium or technique, in preparation for a career as a professional artist. Required coursework begins with foundational courses such as introduction to painting or printmaking, and advances into more focused study of different techniques. Complementing many fine art majors is art history coursework, which prepares you to not only critique your own work but also to understand the role of the contemporary artist within the larger market.

Art History Degree

An undergraduate degree in art history will help you develop your knowledge of the extensive history of the visual arts, encouraging your ability to analyze the aesthetic qualities of art works within the context of the culture and time period in which they were created. In addition to coursework on various art movements, such as Renaissance or contemporary art, or major themes, such as women in the arts or museum studies, many undergraduate art history programs offer potential curatorial or administrative experience in museum or gallery settings or study abroad programs that allow you to enhance your knowledge in a particular period or geographic area of art.

Arts Administration Degree

Success as an art broker requires business management skills, so a degree in arts administration or business can also provide excellent preparation for a career in art brokerage. Undergraduate arts administration programs equip you with the foundational business skills needed to undertake a variety of arts organization management positions, from development and donor relations to arts education. Arts administration majors undergo a core series of business courses, including topics such as principles of financial management or nonprofit management, along with related classes like public speaking or museum studies, and advanced seminars in areas such as the art museum and gallery in theory and practice or preparation of the art professional.

Museum and Gallery Internships and Jobs

Even those who hold a degree in these fields benefit by supplementing their education with hands-on work or internship experience within the museum and gallery world. Working within museums and galleries both exposes you to the challenges of your desired career path and allows you to develop your own network of clients and contacts on whom you can call when you branch out on your own. It can also help you advance your knowledge within a particular time period or style of art that can become your specialty.

About the Author

Teresa J. Siskin has been a researcher, writer and editor since 2009. She holds a doctorate in art history.

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