If you are seeking advice or appraisal about a work of art, or simply have a specialized question to ask, an art expert may be able to provide you with the knowledge you need. "Art expert" is a broad term, encompassing many individuals from broad educational and experiential backgrounds. Be sure to check the credentials of any expert you discuss personal items with, and remember that a second opinion is never a bad idea.
To find an art expert, you may begin on a local level by talking to nearby antique dealers or local museums. Try to discover if they use a local appraiser or firm that may point you in the right direction. If your question is about a specific artist, historical period, or style, you may need to look for an art expert that specializes in the field.
Consider checking with the art department of any nearby universities, but be careful to look at credentials. Degrees in art history or art, while valuable, do not necessarily mean that a person is truly an art expert. Be sure to ask polite questions about the background and experience of anyone you speak to, particularly if your questions regard a potential new discovery that could have financial value. Additionally, if any nearby art museums deal with the period or artist you are researching, consider requesting an appointment with the curator.
If you have a piece of art with an undetermined origin or history that you think may be valuable or historically significant, consider contacting an art expert who works at an appraisal firm. For a fee, these companies can research and discover the history, artist, and market value of a piece. If you are planning to have the artwork insured or are preparing it for sale, it is important to find an appraiser whose work is certified by a recognized appraising organization. For a list of such experts, try contacting one of the many overseeing appraisal groups, such as the American Society of Appraisals, Appraisers Association of America, International Society of Appraisers, or the Private Art Dealers Association.
If your questions are more general, such as how to get into collecting or research for a publish work, you may be able to answer your own art questions. Thousands of publications are available online and in libraries on the history of art and the lives of artists. For help directing your search, contact local professors and museums. Art lovers often enjoy discussing their obsession and may be happy to set you on the right path.