8 things to consider when setting up an exhibition

Setting up any exhibition can be a daunting prospect.

Especially the first time, right? Which is why it’s important to take part in a few group exhibitions before engaging in you first one!

Art Exhibition at Stowe School
©2011- Cathy Read -Art Exhibition at Stowe School-digital image

It’s a great opportunity to see how hanging an exhibition works. I’d heartily recommend taking part in one, if you can. There’s so much to consider.

Today, I’ve been the setting up an Exhibition with Bafa at Stowe House.

A marvelous setting and all very grand. But, as usual with these events, there’s a lot of work involved.

I thought I’d share some valuable lessons I’ve learned. Such as…

  • The secret to success is always good planning, but you also have to be prepared for the unexpected.

This time we ended up completely repainting the display boards instead of touching them up as we usually do. All because the wrong colour paint was obtained. Result = more than 2 hours extra setting up time!

  • Study the Venue

Size, shape height, lighting, window spaces. I recently learned that galleries actually create scale models with miniature copies of the art so they can decide before they get all the pictures in! There will be specific issues unique to the venue. We had a particular issue with lighting in a listed building.

  • Consider the art to be hung

If it’s a group exhibition you have to work with what you’re given. A Solo show can be considered when work is created. Either way, pay attention to whether colours are working together/clashing. Texture, abstracts, figurative pieces. It’s not just a case of sticking a group such as portraits together either. Mixing the various subjects keeps the interest flowing!

  • Make sure everything is framed properly.

Some of the work was  incorrectly framed. Glazing omitted on mounted work. Or tape alone used on glazed work to hold everything in. And the wrong cord for hanging, which broke!

  • Work out where everything should go BEFORE you start hanging.

It saves so much time and unnecessary holes! We normally decide on locations by laying out on the floor and then hang all at once. The scale model also works!

  • Make sure everything is hung properly.

Check pictures are safely hung and fixings are secure. Various hanging systems are available, it’s worth doing some research on what will work with your boards and/or walls. Ensure the boards are correctly erected and secure!

  • Do a walk around

Adding labels and straightening everything up! Which is a particular nightmare. Some judicious use of blu-tac is often necessary!

  • Have a break then walk around again

Take a break -tea, coffee, a glass of wine – you’ve earned it! Then a final walk around is worth doing. Fresh eyes can also see things you miss.

Our exhibition’s now up and looking spectacular!

Even if I so say so myself!

So, did I miss anything important? What tips do you have for a relative newbie like me?

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The Master of Masking and the Sultan of Splash Manchester born artist, Cathy S R Read draws with masking fluid to create distinctive mixed media paintings inspired by urban architecture. Much of her work is of Manchester and London. She is a published author and her book, "The Milton Keynes Project" is available on Amazon

2 thoughts on “8 things to consider when setting up an exhibition”

  1. Congratulations on your exhibition!

    Great tips. I hope I get the chance to apply them soon.

    1. Thanks Sue, although I can’t take all the credit, the guys and gals from Bafa were truly awesome! I’m just learning from them!

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