Best Practices for Galleries

  1. Create a high quality neutral space compatible with the art exhibited.

  2. Install excellent lighting. Lighting is 50% of the success of art presentation. Usually combine spots and floods, or use what is suitable for the work, not what just happens to be there.

  3. Pay attention to detail. Patch walls properly, hang work level, use discrete labeling and install it cleanly. Attention to detail in everything the public might encounter.

  4. Allot generous space for works in the gallery. Do not overcrowd. If in doubt, make a tough decision and eliminate something to create more space.

  5. Have a website that is designed to be effective in communicating your programs, events, exhibits, mission, etc. The function is primary, the form should support the function, and represent the same attention to detail evident in your gallery. Keep the website up to date.

  6. Market. Use Internet, mail and word of mouth to market your gallery. Be friendly, energetic, and professional. Use posters and postcards to promote. Have a good logo and use it.

  7. Communicate with everyone you work with in a timely and effective manner.

  8. Write good press releases and know your press targets and deliver the PR to them at least 3 weeks in advance of the exhibit/event.

  9. Be very nice to the artists whose work you exhibit. Treat them professionally. Their appreciation will pay dividends in many ways in years to come.

  10. Be as passionate about your gallery presentations as you would be about a work of art. An exhibit is in fact a work of art if the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

  11. Collaborate in creative ways with other galleries, businesses, etc.

  12. Ask for advice and help from those you see doing well what you want to do.

  13. Be efficient!

In the October 2007 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, you’ll learn how a new wave of artists-turned-gallery-directors is changing the scene. In addition, Jason Franz helps you decide whether you’re ready to start your own gallery.

Jason Franz is director of Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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