Working in art and law

384872_art_thoughts Careers blog written by Kate Morris, Careers Consultant, Careers

If you’re passionate about Art and cultural history, becoming a curator is not your only career option! Combining your love of culture with an interest in Law or business could lead to a number of different careers.

Firstly Law, this is a niche area so you can’t train specifically as an “Art Lawyer” in the UK – it’s likely you would specialise in property, intellectual property, copyright or tax law and then work in a law firm which has art-related clients (like museums/galleries/private investors). A starting point for this could be to look at law firms affiliated with the Institute for Art and Law

  • Try to get exposure of both worlds; gaining work experience in a legal setting as well as a gallery/museum. (We can help you with this).
  • Other potential employers to explore: in-house legal departments of the larger museums and galleries; legal departments in auction houses; bodies like Arts Council England; Historic England and National Trust.

Art Insurance, Auction Houses – there are specialist companies who work specifically with private collectors, museums, galleries, local authorities or commercial companies. You could help ensure collectors, buyers and sellers work responsibly by working for them:

Policy making and Arts funding – organisations that implement (and potentially influence) government policy, make decisions on funding applications from museums, galleries and artists. Some examples:

  • UNESCO – is known as the “intellectual” agency of the United Nations and has responsibility for protecting creative and cultural heritage. They offer (unpaid) internships.
  • ICOM– International Council of Museums, create policies and tools to support museums to prevent trading in illegal antiquities: For example see The Red List database .
  • Historic England – the public body that looks after England’s historic environment.
  • Art Council England – The custodian of public investment, committed to championing and developing the arts, museums and libraries in England.
  • National Trust – protect and open to the public over 350 historic houses, gardens and ancient monuments in the UK.
  • Heritage Lottery Fund – use money raised by National Lottery players to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect heritage. 

Restitution /Fraud investigation: private companies, government bodies, local and national law enforcement organisations help advise on crime prevention, investigate art crime and research restitution issues. Some examples:

  • The Commission for Looted Art in Europe is an international, expert and non-profit representative body which researches, identifies and recovers looted property on behalf of families, communities, institutions and governments worldwide.
  • The Art Loss register is the world’s largest private database of lost and stolen art, antiques and collectables. Its range of services includes item registration, search and recovery services to collectors, the art trade, insurers and worldwide law enforcement agencies.

Law enforcement/ Security: Working at a local, national or international level. 

Research related:

  • ARCA – The Association for Research into Crimes against Art is a research and outreach organisation which works to promote the study and research of art crime and cultural heritage protection. They also deliver a Post Graduate certificate (based in Italy) and offer internships .
  • Arcadia – cultural heritage and environmental protection research and funding body. They work with different universities and organisations. (Sometimes offer paid internships).
  • Academia – some universities investigate and report on these kind of issues. For example, Oxford and Leicester Universities are delivering a 2 year research project into Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa.

Getting work experience and finding out more: 

  • Come to our Careers in Art Law event on Wednesday 12/10/16 at 4pm in SLB/118 (the new Spring Lane building). A panel event hosted by History of Art, York Law School and Careersexploring how Art and Law interlink as disciplines, and career areas which combine both an interest in Law/Business and Art History.
  • We’re also hosting our annual Law Fair on Wednesday 12/10/16 from 12-3pm in the Exhibition Centre where you can meet loads of employers keen to talk to Arts & Humanities students considering legal careers. There will also be a lot of law firms on campus throughout the Autumn term, so check out our full events programme.
  • Many of the above organisations offer formal internships or you could try making a speculative application for work experience (we can help you with this).