Traveling for the Arts

Hilary Smith

Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

Hilary Smith ’06 

As a recruiting and admissions officer for Christie’s Education, owned by Christie’s Auction House in New York City, former art & art history major Hilary Smith ’06 enjoys incredible opportunities for travel while keeping up with what’s new in the art scene. Meeting with prospective students around the world, she shares all that Christie’s Education has to offer.

Can you speak to how Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education helped you along your career path?

While I am working in a field directly related to my major, I think the overall liberal-arts education I received was the most valuable thing I took away from Dickinson. My art history courses were undoubtedly important, and I reference them often, but the variety in curriculum taught me how to write, sharpened my critical thinking skills, and gave me an appreciation for transferrable skills and thinking outside the box.

What was your favorite activity/organization at Dickinson?

While I never worked for The Trout Gallery, I loved to spend time there. It was so nice to have an arts space right on campus. I also stage managed a few DTG productions, which were always great to be a part of and enjoy.

What jumps out as a great memory from your time at Dickinson?

This didn’t happen in Carlisle, but I was visiting a friend who was studying in the Bologna program our junior year. The friend I was visiting had other plans one night, so I went out with a bunch of other Dickinson students. At the end of the night, I had to get back to my friend’s apartment. We had run into another group of Dickinsonians while we were out, one of whom, unbeknownst to me, was my friend’s roommate, Liz Glynn Toth ’06. All I had was a piece of paper with the address, and Liz saw it and said, “don’t worry, come with me.” We shared a hysterically funny late-night taxi home and ended up being great friends. Liz was my first roommate when I moved to New York, and then she moved back to Carlisle to work for Dickinson. Now I come to visit her and her family and also get to visit Dickinson, which is a nice perk.

How do you stay involved with Dickinson?

I have the great luck of having two friends who work for the college, Liz Glynn Toth ’06 and Greg Moyer ’06, so I get back to Carlisle to visit them, which is, of course, a great opportunity to visit campus. I like to see the shows at The Trout Galley and catch up with some of my favorite professors when I am in town. Also, as a recruiter, I get to visit Dickinson for work. I present on campus, meet with students and have even spoken in a few museum studies classes. In addition, I often speak with graduating students about the art world.
How did you get interested in your work, and what about it excites you most?

My career is not what I thought it would be when I graduated in 2006. I knew I wanted to work in the art world and had interned with Christie’s, but I didn’t have much direction beyond that. I applied to and interviewed for all sorts of things, but I ended up working for Christie’s Education. I thought it was a good starting point and that I would stay for two years and then go to grad school. It turns out, I really liked working for Christie’s Education. We were still a part of the auction house, but working on the education side gave me a lot more access to all different departments and a lot of opportunity to travel, which I love. I did end up going to grad school and earned an M.P.S. in arts and cultural management, but I used it to advance my career here at Christie’s Education. The travel still excites me, and I enjoy the variety in my day-to-day job.

What does your current work entail?

I currently work as the recruitment and admissions officer at Christie’s Education in New York. Christie’s Education is the school owned by Christie’s Auction House. We offer programs in modern and contemporary art as well as the market and art, law and business. My job is to recruit and enroll students in the program. This means I travel about three months of the year and meet with a lot of prospects.

What is the most challenging part of your work?

Keeping up with new artists, new work and new technology. So much work is being created now, it can be overwhelming. Even though I work for a school and not directly with the art, I’m not representing them well, or relating to the students well, if I don’t know what is going on in terms of art history, the art market and in the news.

What comes to mind as something unforgettable that you’ve done since you graduated?

I travel a lot for work now, but in 2009, I had my first business trip to the Venice Biennale. I was 25, shocked that I was allowed to travel for business and getting to travel to an event I had always wanted to attend. It was an amazing trip and really reinforced why I wanted to work in the art world in the first place.

If you could have dinner with anyone famous, living or dead, who would it be?

Alive: Michelle Obama. I just saw her speak on her book tour, and she is truly amazing. Smart, funny, dynamic, wise. She would be a great dinner companion.

Dead: Lee Miller. Miller was the first woman to both grace the cover of Vogue and work as a photographer and war correspondent for the magazine. She was one of the first female wartime correspondents, dated Man Ray, was great friends with Picasso and Dali, and became a great surrealist photographer in her own right. Her life was outrageous, and she was a force to be reckoned with. I think dinner with her would be great fun.

You just built a time machine: where and when do you go?

1920s Paris or 1960s New York

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Published April 11, 2019