How to Hang Your Art for Exhibition

Artist’s who plan ahead save time and frustration

Don’t leave the how and where your art will hang to the last minute—especially if your installation date is the day before your Opening (which is usually when you get access to the venue). Making a plan that outlines which pieces you “need” to effectively create an “exhibition of art” should be established before you sign your venue contract or the latest, in the few days following. You’ll need to know which artworks are your “Heroes” to complete this task. If you haven’t determined which artworks you will be exhibiting read my post on “How to Choose Your Best Art to Exhibit”.

Survey Your Space

Determine how much display space you have (in square metres/inches), how it is configured and how the traffic will move through the displayed works.

The first step is create a drawn plan of the venue. You will need a measuring tape, pencil and graph paper. Drawn to scale with key dimensions marked on it, your plan should show doors, windows, washrooms, and any other room feature that will affect your where your art will hang. (e.g. light switches, emergency exits, canteen serving windows, sunlight, dark spots, spot lighting, etc). Although it is not critical to make this drawing to scale, graph paper makes this task a lot easier and more accurate.

* TIP: If time permits, visit the gallery space while other artists are showing there. See how they have strategized hanging their artwork. Make some notes about size, layout and what walls provided the biggest impact when you first entered each room.

Make a Wall Map

Create a wall map for each display wall and begin organizing which pieces will go where. Display art by theme, size and group appeal. In general, artwork should be hung so that the center point of the picture or grouping is at about eye level for the average person, approx. 60 and 64 inches.

Select your focal point in each room (or wall) that will grab the attention of the visitor as soon as they enter. Usually this work is your best piece “Hero”, oversize and should get its own spot light.

Use paper cut-outs to represent pieces in each wall grouping. Organized them on your wall map. Write the size of each painting on the top ensuring you vary the sizes as you move around the space. Leave lots of space between each piece, each piece deserves its own attention.

Hanging Tools

Working from your Wall Map, you will need:

• A “Helper”

• Measuring tape “Measure twice, hammer once!”

• Pencil and eraser

• Picture hooks (various sizes designed for different WEIGHTS). Check the packaging for the “poundage” estimates. Try to avoid using nails, which can twist and bend.

• Hammer

• Level

Here is a link to a short video by Carl Martin at The Studio Shop. Carl explains how to hang your art  level, evenly spaced and in groupings.

Also make a note on your plan for where you will have your guest book table, bar & food table, coat rack, umbrella stand, etc. Include only a few seats (or bench) for elderly quests, remove extra seating to a nearby storage closet.

Good work. This will be your map for using on the day of hanging, it will likely see some minor changes as you start hanging—expect some surprises…

Don’t under-estimate the time it will take to hang your exhibition, budget a minimum of 20 min. per piece.

If you are planning for an exhibition and haven’t signed-up to receive our FREE “Artist’s Exhibition Guide” please sign-up today. There is no cost, nothing to buy and no obligations.

Let us know how this post helped you and be sure to share your past experiences hanging art by commenting.

Good luck!


Comment on this post:

Where have you exhibited your work?

What was your worst experience (surprise) you encountered while hanging your art?

What do you think about paying for a venue space?