Starting Your Art Collection, Professionally

This is one of many articles on this website on how to start an art collection. The author Corinne Cain gives a professional perspective, whereas some other articles on this topic have a more ‘personal account’- flavor.

Starting an Art Collection

“Identify what kind of art you like. The following techniques can help you determine what that is:

1. Visit 3 to 6 museums displaying different types of art. Finish your visit by purchasing postcards in the gift shop that reflect artworks that are attractive to you. Toss these cards in a bowl, and don’t look at them again until you have visited all the museums on your list. Once you have done so, review all the cards and look for similarities among them in terms of mediums chosen, time period of the artists, or the style of the artworks.

2. Visit your local library and find an art history book that spans at least four centuries of art from many different countries. Use sticky notes to mark your favorite pieces. Again, look for common elements to determine what you like the best.

• Match what you like with what you can afford and what is currently available to buy. Consult with knowledgeable art dealers or art appraisers about costs and availability of what you have selected. Determine your annual budget and the number of pieces you want to be able to purchase with that amount.

• Gather information about the quality of what you like, what you can afford, and what is currently available. Consult with museum personnel and knowledgeable art consultants about what they consider to be quality work.

• Join ancillary museum groups that offer lectures and exposure to valuable information.

• Subscribe to magazines that focus on the type of art you want to collect.

• Don’t rush to acquire art. For many, it’s a lifelong pursuit.”

About the Author
by Corinne Cain. Corinne Cain is the principal of Corinne Cain, Ltd, a nationally recognized firm affording expert appraisal and consulting services on Fine Art and Native American Art. Her background includes an MFA and MBA from Southern Methodist University. Ms. Cain is also the proprietor of, a nationally known secondary art market dealer.

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