How to plan a successful art exhibition

The graduation show is a pivotal point – the culmination of up to two years course work. What ensures it’s the best experience possible for both visitor and artist?

For Paul Glinkowski, success hinges on thorough basic preparation. Reject make-shift exhibiting spaces such as corridors in favour of generous-sized rooms, fit-for-purpose as exhibition spaces. Meet and greet is crucial – reception is the first point of contact the visitor encounters so it must be simple to find, friendly and welcoming, and those staffing it easy to identify. Make sure it’s stocked with everything the visitor needs to enjoy and understand the show, and provide an exhibition map to make finding each artist’s work easy. The rest of the show should have clear, consistent, continuous and easy to spot internal signage, possibly colour coded to simplify navigation. Another good tip is to provide a space for visitors to relax and get refreshments.  [i]

Arts professionals ‘like to have access to information which helps contextualize and enable an understanding of the exhibiting students and their work.’ [ii] What’s provided should be consistent for all artists, uniform in quality, and include an artist statement, c.v., contact details, and provide access to additional examples of work.  Visitors enjoy leaving an exhibition with key material – illustrations of the work, contact details, URL’s, and details of where to find more information. [iii]

The standard of the show must be maintained whilst it’s open. To often visitors are left feeling ‘as if all the energy’ has ‘gone into advertising and launching the show, but that little thought’ has ‘been given to what happened beyond it – and to its visitor / visitor experience – beyond the private view.’ [iv]  To avoid creating this situation, it’s essential help and information is available throughout the show, exhibitions are always in full working order, and that it’s staffed appropriately.

'Forthright man' by Barry Haskins.

‘Forthright man’ by Barry Haskins.


[i] Paul Glinkowski, Maximising the MA show, (http://www.artquest.org.uk/uploads/recovered_files/Maximising_MA_Full_Report_Final.pdf, 2008). Accessed on 27th April 2013, pp.77:78

[ii] Paul Glinkowski, Maximising the MA show, (http://www.artquest.org.uk/uploads/recovered_files/Maximising_MA_Full_Report_Final.pdf, 2008). Accessed on 27th April 2013, p.44

[iii] Paul Glinkowski, Maximising the MA show, (http://www.artquest.org.uk/uploads/recovered_files/Maximising_MA_Full_Report_Final.pdf, 2008). Accessed on 27th April 2013, p.78

[iv] Paul Glinkowski, Maximising the MA show, (http://www.artquest.org.uk/uploads/recovered_files/Maximising_MA_Full_Report_Final.pdf, 2008). Accessed on 27th April 2013, p.61

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