11 Ways to Score Big at the MCAD Art Sale


The MCAD Art Sale is undoubtedly one of the largest college art sales in the nation, enticing thousands of people to come out of their hibernation in the hopes of scoring great art.

Each year, about 5,000 art hounds hit the sale, so the competition is stiff. But we’ve got the insider tips and tricks you need to know to navigate the sale like a pro (and finally find that piece of art to fill your boring wall).


“This is really where art collectors are born and artists launch their careers. It’s one of those experiences that’s a bit addictive.”
Ann Benrud, MCAD

11 Ways To Score Big at the MCAD Art Sale

Pick your night: If you take your art buying seriously, have your eye on a more mature artist’s work or just want first crack at the goods, pay a little more up front to get in Thursday night. “Ambassadors” will be on hand that night to help guide people to what they’re searching for. Go Friday if you still want a jump on the art buying, but don’t have your eye on any particular artist.

Get there early. Sale goers line up opening night to get a spot at the front of the crowd to be the first in when the doors open.

Get acclimated. The 6,000 or so works are spread out on the first and second floor. Do a quick lap to assess what you’re interested in, then hone in on that area.

Lost? Get a map. The art is grouped by medium: paintings in one corner, photography in another. And ladies, don’t fall for the line, “I know where I’m going.” We’ve all been there before.

If you see something you like, act quickly.  Seriously, we mean jump on it. There’s a pretty good chance it won’t be there when you loop back later. If you want a piece, you have to be the first to grab it (and then haul it with you all through the sale).

Big pieces don’t move as quickly as small pieces.  Act accordingly.

If you like a particular artist’s work but don’t see exactly what you’re looking for, scan the crowd. Chances are good the artist will be lingering nearby. Chat them up. They may have just what you’re looking for in their studio.

Bring someone strong. When you find that perfect five-foot painting for the wall in your living room, you’re going to need someone to grab it off the wall and lug it to the checkout area.

This is not a networking event (if you’re serious about buying). Try to keep conversations with those you run into short, because every minute spent talking is a minute lost looking for great finds. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Be open to art that moves you. This is a treasure hunt. Let the sale be an adventure.

Save a little money to donate to the scholarship fund when you check out.  It’s a great cause!


MCAD Art Sale
Nov. 20 to Nov. 22, prices vary by day
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
2501 Stevens Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55404