Art valuation is the process of determining the worth and market value of works of art, such as paintings, jewelry, furniture and sculptures. At the heart of this process are art valuers, professionals who rely on their superior research skills to gather information from art dealers, curators, auction houses and experienced consultants, and reliably estimate the price of art. To join this career, you need to pursue a relevant degree and have a considerable amount of work-related experience.
What They Do
Although art valuers often specialize in estimating the prices of specific types of artworks, such as 18 century British Paintings, they also have the following duties and responsibilities;
- Assessing the physical condition of an art object to detect any visible damages
- Producing valuation reports for buyers or sellers of art
- Staying abreast of demand and price trends in various consumer markets
- Determining proof of ownership of works of art by examining receipts and other relevant documents
- Providing expert evidence in legal proceedings, especially when buyers raise disputes after purchasing art objects
Art valuers often have unpredictable schedules, as they can work during the evenings or weekends. Therefore, you could end up working more than 40 hours a week. When they are not in auction houses or art exhibitions, these valuers spend time in private offices, compiling reports or conducting research on the internet. Those with international clients may frequently travel abroad.
The following table highlights the salaries for art valuers at various occupational levels;
£22,000 - £25,000
Source: National Careers Service
Education and Training
Because there are no set industry-wide entry requirements for art valuers, the avenues for securing a job include;
- Volunteering as an assistant, porter or cataloguer in a local gallery or auction house while doing part-time study to gain relevant knowledge and hands-on skills, which could lead to a permanent job
- Enrolling in a professional training scheme offered by a large auction house
- Earning a bachelor’s degree majoring in fields such as fine arts and restoration, history, fine arts conservation or art market appraisal.
Popular universities offering these courses include;
- Kingston University, London
- Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth
- University of Lincoln, Lincoln
- Cardiff University, Cardiff
Although the requirements to secure an admission into these programs vary by university, they commonly require two A-levels and five other GCSEs (A-C).
To become an effective art valuer you will need;
- Strong attention to detail to spot clues to an object’s origin and quality
- Excellent communication skills to exchange information clearly with clients
- Strong research skills to obtain information from numerous sources before estimating the financial value of an object
- Adequate knowledge of legislations governing the art market appraising industry.
How promising is the employment market for art valuers? Well, between 2014 and 2020, the National Careers Service estimates the U.K. economy will be create about 229,000 jobs. Some experienced art valuers will also move into private business, opening up more employment opportunities for graduating valuers.
- Auction houses
- Large museums
- Insurance companies
- Antique dealers
Career advancement opportunities can be limited to art valuers who solely focus on gaining vast work experience to secure more lucrative jobs at bigger companies. The future is bright for those who pursue graduate degrees in art market appraising and join the National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers, which offers conferences and seminars that are crucial to gaining more knowledge.
The next time you visit a museum and find yourself wondering about the price of a captivating sculpture, you can consider becoming an art valuer.