How to Collect Art Affordably? Akron Art Museum Offers Tips

Max Markwald's "Abstract Portrait," 2016 (left), and Joan Colbert's "Limoges Market," 2006 (right) [Collection of the Akron Art Museum Art Library at the Akron-Summit County Public Library]
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When it comes to buying art, it can be difficult to know where to begin and seem like it's only for people with great wealth. 

The Akron Art Museum wants to make the process simpler and point out affordable options for collecting art in Northeast Ohio.

“We of course want people to come to the museum and enjoy and be inspired by the artwork there, but we want to encourage people to experience what it is like to live with art in their homes,” said Ellen Rudolph, chief curator at the museum.

In advance of a panel discussion on collecting art this Thursday, Rudolph shared some advice with ideastream.

Ellen Rudolph, chief curator at the Akron Art Museum [photo: Akron Art Museum]

Follow your own taste

“If you really love something, but the friend that you’re with hates it, it doesn’t really matter,” Rudolph said. “It’s important you love it.”

Look in the neighborhood

“The best place to begin is in your backyard,” Rudolph said.

She suggests checking out local artists, galleries, auctions and art fairs. Many art schools also have exhibitions where students sell their artwork.

By shopping locally, people will also form relationships with people in the community, she said.

People may also find pieces they like at thrift stores or yard sales.

Just don’t expect to pick up a Leonardo da Vinci to sell later at auction for millions, she said.

Check out auctions

“Auction houses are a great way to see a lot of artwork and to watch prices,” Rudolph said.

Ask questions

“Don’t ever be afraid to ask someone a question,” Rudolph said. “It’s fine if you ask about a price, and it’s way out of your league, and you walk away.”

Borrow art

Anyone with an Akron-Summit County library card can borrow artwork from the library’s collection, which the art museum curated. Many pieces are by local artists.

“If you’ve borrowed something from the art library program and you really love it, we provide contact information for all of the artists,” Rudolph said. “You could actually contact the artist and arrange to maybe buy an artwork from them.”

Works in the library’s collection are not for sale. If someone falls in love with a piece, he or she must eventually return that work to the library.

The free discussion on the Art of Collecting is Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Akron Art Museum.

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