Whenever you are planning an exhibit, you've got to plan a long way ahead...and then plan backwards.
Establish the date of the show's opening, and then plan backwards.
Your exhibit planning includes:
Develop your exhibit concept, vision and goals. Just what kind of a viewer experience are you creating?
What needs to be done? Identify all of the tasks that need to be completed in order to make your vision a reality.
What order? Figure out the sequence that tasks need to be completed in. Some tasks depend on others being completed first.
How much time? Figure out how long each task is likely to take. Be both realistic and generous in your estimates.
How much money? Assess costs of completing the tasks (and artworks and the exhibit).
Plan your calendar backwards. Line up all the tasks to see what needs to be done by when — schedule your tasks.
Plan and commit time each day to get it done. Figure our what hours today, tomorrow, and this week are dedicated to fulfillng this dream.
Hold yourself accountable. Keep track of whether you are on schedule - at least once a week, compare your actions with your plans.
Give yourself a schedule of tasks and deadlines along the way — it is far better to deal with many manageable tasks than to be faced with the one, sole, daunting "task" of "put on a show."
Break it down into bite-size pieces and figure out when to bite into each one...spread it out.
Dates for our semester's exhibit preps
Exhibit Planning and Implementation Topics
|Key Questions to Ask
|When to work on this?
Set the Date, Gallery & Partners
When will the show open?
|Get this info as soon as you can so that you can start to envision and plan your exhibit.
— at least 8 weeks before... preferably earlier.
The Grand Concept
An exhibit is a work of art.
Now if you've not already started.
Have a section in your sketchbook where you keep notes on exhibits you see in person, on line, etc. Store up your best ideas.
(9 months is better)
Timeline for Show Prep
|Develop a week-by-week plan for getting ready for the exhibit. Break the tasks down into doable pieces.
Get as much done early as possible.
|Count the costs. Identify where you will be spending money.
Explore ways to save costs.
If its a group show, identify who is responsible for what expenses (and tasks).
Assess Gallery Resources
|Find out what supplies and equipment will be available for your use in the gallery.
Walls? Bases? Glass cases?
Repair/Cleaning Supplies: paint, spackle, brooms, etc.
Ladder (to adjust lights or hang tall works)
Hammer, nails, screws for hanging. Levels.
Reception facilities? (kitchen, fridge, tables, etc.)
|Begin early considering which works you want to exhibit.
Consider what works you have underway or planned that you want to include in the show.
Look for any "holes" or weak areas that you'd like to improve.
Arrange to reaquire any works that have been given, loaned or sold.
Consider whether you have major "magnet" works that draw viewers in -- key works that you know they will be drawn to, and intend for them to remember.
|Assess completed works.
Assess works yet to complete.
Outline/plan dates for completions
How will you tell others about the exhibit?
|Explore options early so you get everything arranged in time to submit, print and distribute, or upload your content.
Be sure you have a clear timeline for your marketing steps -- don't let this fall behind.
|- 6 weeks
If you are responsible for the reception (rather than, say the gallery owner or dealer)...
Initial Planning: 4 weeks before
Final Plans, Purchases & Arrangments: 1 week before
Set up: 1- 2Hrs before reception. (depends on how much hot/cold/cooked goodies)
- 4 weeks
|Who do you want to send an invitation to?
Consider those you can't easily contact without a personal, direct invitation.
Also, consider that a formal invitation is a special honor — you send to people that you would really like to come.
|Collect the names:
Get the mailing addresses and/or Campus Mail addresses.
Get email addresses.
If mailing printed invitations, estimate costs.
|- 4 weeks
|Design the invitation. Explore alternatives.
Plan, schedule the printing, estimate costs.
Get it printed. (assume 1-2 weeks for printing, though quicker is possible)
|Consider where signs might be placed outside the gallery (in the foyer and outside the Art Building).
Consider bulletin boards on campus or at coffee shops or at other galleries, community centers or arts groups.
Design, execute and print your poster. Include essential info. Express the character of the show.
|It is helpful to have an information sheet or booklet available at the gallery. This may have information about the artists and their works, and it may include pricing/purchase information on the works.
Many viewers want to know what is for sale, and for how much. Answer that for them.
|Get initial draft laid out early, but expect to wait until shortly before the exhibit for final details.
In the exhibit, each artwork should be easily idenified by its label, usually mounted on the gallery wall near the artwork.
Note: if multiple exhibitors are presenting in the same space, labels must make it clear which artist created the work.
|Work on these while doing your works/price list ... they involve much of the same info.
Matting, Framing & Bases
|Every artwork needs to be ready to hang or present.
Most works need a frame and hanging hardware. Many will need a matt and/or glass.
This takes time, planning and usually skill and/or money.
Plan the presentation issues with each work you'll be exhibiting. Estimate the cost and the time involved.
Videos on Matting & Framing:
|Write a statement about your goals or motivations for the works in the exhibit. Help your viewers comprehend and appreciate your works.
Note that you might write a background statement for each of the works you're exhibiting as well. This certainly isn't required, but is appropriate for some works and is much appreciated by visitors.
|Usually there is a guest book near the entrance of the exhibit. You can use a standard, purchased guest book or you can create a more personal and/or interactive guest-response opportunity.
|The gallery may need cleaning.
Walls may need to spackled and touched up with paint. (this should be done by the prior exhibitor...but be prepared to spend time getting the gallery ready to hang the show.)
|Just before you bring artwork into the gallery, usually just after you get access to the gallery.
|You'll need to distribute your artwork through the gallery and compose the space for best effect.
You may want to add temporary walls or shelves (which are in storage) and rearrange any benches or other features.
|Just after cleaning.
Hang the Show
Figure out where works will go...
What tools and supplies do you need?
|usually 24 to 48 hours before opening.
|Gallery lighting is critical to the success of many works.
Develop adequate illumination for all works. Build more intense illumination where needed. Work to avoid harsh shadows. Be careful of lights that are blocked by viewers who stand in typical viewing positions -- walk around the gallery and note when strong cast shadows distrupt..
|After hanging works; a few hours before opening.
|Hang any labels, artist's statement or other materials that will be a part of the show.
|After hanging works.
|After you've got everything hung, mounted, positioned and adjusted. Do a quick sweep and pickup of remnants from all that work. Eliminate anything that might distract a viewer.
|Do this just before opening the exhibit... you're almost there!
Get yourself ready for the Reception
|Plan a bit of time to clean up, relax, and just savor the moment.
Look over the gallery. Get ready to smile for your guests.
|Look over the rules for use of the kitchen. Get it back into good order.
|After your reception ends. Plan a friend or two to handle clean up, if possible.
Photograph all artworks
|Do I have good quality, high resolution digital images of every work in the exhibit?
If not, get them now while your works are gathered and in ideal condition.
This is essential for building and maintaining your portfolio, which is essential for getting subsequent work.
|May be done before hanging works, but might also be done while the exhibit is open. This is best done after hours, when the gallery is closed to visitors.
Photograph and/or video the exhibit space itself.
While your work is clean, presented well and mounted for viewing, take images and video of your work and of the gallery exhibit as a whole.
Consider social media.
|Get some shots/footage during opening.
Get shots/footage when gallery is empty.
Check the gallery
|Each day the exhibit is open, someone needs to check and see that everything is as it should be. Sometime works get bumped or smudged or labels fall off. At an art gallery, the dealer and staff will do that -- in a university gallery, its a good idea to check on your own exhibit.
Early each day, do a quick walkthrough.
Take Down exhibit
|Take all the work down.
Have a plan and materials, for safely moving and/or storing your works.
Plan arrangements for delivering purchased works.
Repair/Clean the Gallery
|Fill/spackle nail holes. Scrap spackle level. Let it dry, then sand it smooth. (if the gallery does not provide these services.)
Paint walls as needed. (often the spackle is discreet enough to not require painting, but larger repairs will need to be painted.)
Put bases and walls back in gallery storage.
|Key Questions to Ask
|When to work on this?
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