Art historians frequently become art consultants. Corporations often hire a consultant to make art purchases. People without an art background who want to invest in the arts also hire art consultants to advise them on collection purchases. Having a thorough understanding of art and artists, art history and law, and your client’s needs can turn an average salary into more than comfortable earnings.
Directors and Designers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics doesn’t show specific salaries for art consultants but classifies art consultants as among art directors and interior designers. Specialized design services earn a national mean salary of $52,430, as of data supplied in May of 2010. Art directors earn a $94,100 salary on average. Mean wages topped at $76,980 in May of 2008.
Many art consultants naturally become art museum curators because of their background in art history. Pay varies based on the size of the museum, its location and the quality of the collection it houses. An art consultant working as a curator can expect to earn from $50,380 to $79,440 per year, reports BLS for May of 2010.
Art consultants also manage art collections for private collectors. A Canadian consulting firm charges $40 an hour to manage an art collection and an additional $25 an hour for administrative and clerical services, as reported at the time of publication. Collection management involves ensuring the art collection is in good condition and documenting the collection’s history. Art with a documented history by a reputable art authoritarian has a higher value.
Art consultants often work independently and receive a commission for payments unless they are on the staff of a museum or art gallery. The pay for these positions varies widely because of the quality and cost of the consultant's work and advice, as well as her client's stature. When an art consultant works independently or freelances, prices are often set to a percentage of the valued price of the collection or based on the type of work she provides. Art investment is a big business. With some pieces alone worth more than a million dollars, a multimillion-piece collection could garner a hefty commission for the art consultant, even if the fee were just 1 to 3 percent of the total value.