Summer Internship at an Auction House

 By Morgan Orangi, Career Services Ambassador

Senior Art History Major Kaitlyn McElwee spent the past summer working in the high intensity offices of Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers. Sloans & Kenyon is located in Bethesda, MD and contains a consignment store in addition to their auction and exhibition spaces. They specialize in Asian art, but receive and auction items of various styles and media that range from $100-$100,000 in value.  

Kaitlyn found the Sloans & Kenyon internship through a family friend who recommended her to the owner. She had been in search of an auction house internship in order to round out her experience in art history related careers. The previous summer, she had interned in the education department at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC and now, while at school, she works in the Van Every Smith Galleries at the Visual Arts Center. Through these experiences she covers the business, museum, academic, and gallery aspects of the art world. Kaitlyn hopes that her various experiences will prepare her for her long-term goal of receiving her doctorate in Art History.

While working at Sloans & Kenyon, Kaitlyn catalogued items, constructed and deconstructed exhibitions, assisted with appraisals, and worked as a telephone bidder. Although she enjoyed all of her responsibilities, Kaitlyn especially appreciated the opportunity to discover new works and learn from items that she wouldn’t necessarily have seen in an art history class. Preparing for the auctions proved very hectic, especially when compared to Kaitlyn’s experience at the Mint, which had focused on developing exhibitions over much longer periods. While she found telephone bidding exhilarating, the work leading up to the auction required long hours and unexpected changes.

Kaitlyn’s art history courses and work in the gallery provided her with the foundation she needed to determine mediums, catalogue items, and organize exhibitions. At Sloans & Kenyon she built on this foundation by learning about the business side of art. She learned what types of items are and aren’t desirable, what qualities to look for in specific types of items, and how to deal with (sometimes crazy) clients.  

After graduation, Kaitlyn hopes to find a job at a gallery in Charlotte where she can spend a couple of years orienting herself in the contemporary art market.

Kaitlyn McElwee is an Art History major who works in the Van Every Smith Galleries and trains her dog in obscure tricks. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *