Career Profile of Art Auction House Administrator

Photo © Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
A Bonhams expert holds a rose boulster 'boys at play' vase in London, England. The vase, originally from the Beijing Royal Palace, is expected to fetch between £200,000 - £300,000 GBP at the 'Chinese Art' auction at Bonham's on May 12, 2011. Photo © Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Job Description of Art Auction House Administrator

An Art Auction House Administrator works full time in an art auction house.

Besides doing basic office administration, an Art Auction House Administrator works in three main areas: sales, shipping and inventory, in order to manage the artworks that will be consigned, handled, or sold at auction.

Education Needed to Be an Art Auction House Administrator

Even though an Art Auction House Administrator does office work, the position requires working with fine art.

Typically, a BA degree in Art History is required, as having enthusiasm for art, and being able to talk, write and understand the art is key to this job.

Skills Required to Be an Art Auction House Administrator

An Auction House Administrator must be highly organized and fastidious to detail. Being able to work on several tasks simultaneously, while also being able to meet constant deadlines is necessary.

Computer proficiency with commonly used programs such as MS Word, Outlook and Excel, and the auction house’s database management system is a must.

Other skills include superb communication skills, both spoken and written, as talking to clients on the phone and writing emails and reports..

Duties Required to Be an Art Auction House Administrator

General duties are those of a typical office, such as answering phones, taking messages, filing documents, and maintaining the daily management of an office.

Administrators may also work at night or on weekends to assist special exhibitions and previews.

Sales tasks include maintaining consignment reports and client accounts, staying vigilant with compliance, receipting property, and keeping accurate records, and following up with post auction sales, insurance claims, and purchase orders.

An Administrator works closely with other departments in the auction house such as Shipping, Operations and Museum Services.

Shipping tasks include coordinating domestic and international shipping and delivery arrangements; arranging necessary import, export and customs forms; coordinating shipping for restoration or authenticity purposes; following up on deliveries and receipting incoming property.

Inventory management tasks include collaborating with Registrars to manage property details, to follow up on unsold works or aging inventory, and to coordinate with catalogue and exhibition deadlines.

How to Apply for an Auction House Administrator Job

Many auction houses post employment opportunities on their websites. Job applicants can typically upload their resumes and application forms via the auction house’s website, or alternatively send by email or send by post.

Auction house job applicants are usually required to submit an application form, a cover letter, and a resume for the position in which they are applying.

To find an auction house near you, check out Fine Art’s listing of international art auction houses.

Career Opportunities for an Auction House Administrator Job

According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics:

 “Overall employment of archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators is projected to grow 11 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.”

The Bureau does not post specific statistics for Art Auction House Administration jobs, but it can be surmised that there are and will be available jobs in this field.

Further Resources

To learn more about an art auction house career, read:

The following weblinks are for online job listings for Auction House Administrators.

Please note that these job listings have deadlines, and that the data is constantly changing.

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