Thank you to the United Arts Appeal of Chautauqua County for supporting the
Projects Pool Grant “Putting Your Best Art Forward”- A Curatorial Mentoring Program

Producing an art show PDF
Checklist PDF

Producing an art show in an alternative space.

1. Confirm the details

(6 months to a year ahead)
Proposed show Dates?
What is Show Theme?
How many Artists the space will accommodate?
Artists Mediums
Is there Rent?
Do you need Insurance? Are you really covered under the spaces insurance?
How sales are handled?
How is sales tax handled?
Is there a commission?
Do you need Staff for the show? include installation assistants, reception and any additional business hours.

2. Call for works

(6months to a year ahead)
Include the following information in your invitation
Theme and or working title
Dates of show
Location of show (address and contact info)
Show coordinator (contact info)
Show commission
Work drop off date
Hanging date
Reception date
Closing date
Pick up works date

3. Collect information:

(one to two months ahead)
Each artist should initially supply a list (inventory) and images of works they are proposing to be included in the show and an artist or show statement. This list does not guarantee that the works will be included in the show. Works can be changed, added or subtracted as you get closer to the show. You will need this to help select works for the show, solidify the show theme, create publicity materials and plan for installation.

Final Inventory: (one to two weeks ahead of time)
This is extremely important! This will be your legal document that establishes the value and worth of the art in your show for insurance purposes. This may be needed In the event of theft, fire or business closing. The list should be submitted electronically, if possible, cuts down on your work load and prevents typing/spelling errors.

This list will be used for work check in, the creation of title tags, and of a final inventory. Once created the final inventory should be emailed to all parties involved in the show and a printed copy should be at the show.

Title of work
Artist name
Jpegs of work (used for inventory and publicity)

Works sold should be checked off this list and artists should be contacted. Replacement works might need to be brought down. Payment for artwork sold should be provided to the artists or organization at the close of the show.

4. Publicity: (based on the size of your organization and budget)
Pre show, call for works (6 months to a year ahead)
Information about show and Reception (Submitted at least 3 weeks before desired publication date. Ask for a specific publication date.)
Post reception article with photo. (Submitted the day after the event)
Review of show, find an independent 3rd party to write.
Closing reception or last chance party (submit 3weeks ahead of desired publication date.)

Use images wherever possible.
Include call for works.
Update your calendar of events to reflect the current dates.
Create a dedicated page for show include all important information, and artists names, images, and links to their website.
Update the Home page one month before to include a big image from show. Rotate this image weekly.

Create an “event” page asap.
Post it immediately and invite artists immediately.
Start your FB blast 3 weeks before the reception.
Send event invite.
Post a different image from the show each day. Use images by each artist, tag them.
Send a reminder to the event invite a week ahead of time.

Posters (create two months ahead of time, start posting one month ahead of time)

Post cards (e invite)
Use poster
Start emailing 3 weeks to 1 month ahead of time
Send reminder the 4 days to a week ahead of reception.

5. Hanging shows 1. Remind the artist of the hanging dates, one week before and one day before.

2. Toolbox
“I like to be prepared for the unexpected, so I carry a little red tool box containing all manner of hanging related bits and bobs. Mine has within it spare wire and string, screws, wall hooks, nails, wire, gaffa tape, removable double sided sticky pads, blu-tak, an assortment of small tools including a hammer, screwdrivers and my trusty bradall tool for making small holes. I’ve had to use it at just about every exhibition I’ve ever hung. I suggest you pack your own ‘survival kit’ similarly.” We use pro hangings when we hang, they cost more but are worth every extra penny because they leave a smaller mark in the wall, are easier to install and uninstall and appear to be sturdier.

3. Checking work in
Have your master inventory printed out or on you mobile device.
Check each work for damage to the work or frame. If you see anything make a note and point it out to the artist. If the work is rejected for any reason, including but not limited to: not ready to hang, damaged, doesn’t fit the show (either work or framing). Cross it off the master list and ask the artist to take it with them.

4. Arranging the work
“The first thing to do is to unload the car and stack all the artworks around the walls on the floor. Don’t hang them yet and don’t be too fussy. Just place them around the room in semi-organised thematic groups so you can see them all, place any large feature pieces in the rough vicinity of where they might eventually hang. The thematic groups can be whatever you want them to be. Maybe it’s color, maybe it’s subject matter. Maybe there’s a narrative story which guides the hanging. It could be just whatever looks good together. Decide early on and your job will be easier.”

Some people like help from the artists, others want complete control. Personally, I prefer it to be a collaborative process, the artist knows the work and I know the space. At the end of the day you want all parties to be happy but the curator or coordinator has final say

“Stand in the middle of the room and look around. Do all the artworks ‘work’ together? You will have to use some imagination as all the artworks are currently sitting on the floor.”

“Start sorting and moving the artworks around the walls (on the floor – don’t hang yet). Usually I find that at this stage that the artworks that don’t fit with each other stand out, and ‘call me’ to move them. The really good feature pieces that I want everyone to see get prime position, and I organised the others around them.”

Tip: The visual flow on the wall is important and “less is more”. You do not have to use every work that is submitted. Give the works room to breathe, we have all seen shows that are too crowded. If something doesn’t work and or cuts off the flow on the wall try to isolate it or keep it in reserve.

“Got them sorted into groups? Good. Look at how all the groups work. You might have to swap entire groups around the room if they don’t play well together.” These groups can be your best friend when it comes time to hang the show, some times you will hang them salon style and or fairly tightly so you can create room between groupings. The visual weight of six small works can equal the weight one or two big works. The open space between works or groupings give the viewer a chance to rest, recharge and reflect.

5. Hanging the show
2 to 3 person groups is best.
One to position the work on the wall.
One to grab any tools or anything that is needed.
One to judge height levels from a distance.

6. Lighting
“If possible head up your step ladder to adjust the position of the lights for optimum loveliness. There’s generally only a limited number of spotlights available so you might have to make some strategic decisions to highlight key pieces, with other artworks receiving just a general ambient light. Halogen lights can be hot. Be careful up there.” Some lights are warm and some are cool. Some are spotlights and others cover a wide area.
•Be sure to think of the show as being viewed from both day and night lighting.
•The 3rd person can be working on this while the other two positions works.

7. Price Cards
“Okay, so the exhibition is hung, the lights are on and its looking like a million dollars. Now is the time to pop the little cards on the wall to indicate the catalogue number, title, medium and price. Don’t skimp. Make classy looking ones and hang them carefully so that they are easy to see and relate directly to their corresponding artwork. ”

Title of work (font size 2 bigger, maybe italicized)
Artist name


We usually hang them beneath the lower right hand corner of the work, but not always. They should be at an easy to read height but not distract from the work they represent. Nothing should be hand written, everything should be as consistent as possible so as not to distract.
•Use painters tape to adhere to the wall.
•The 3rd person can be working on this while the other two positions works.

6. Reception: This is your (the artists and groups) party make it fun. You have all put a lot of effort into the show and now its your chance to share it with your community and the world. If every artist fills their car with friends you will have an instant crowd. Bring food and or wine and save your receipts because it is 100% tax deductible (entertaining expenses). Be sure to greet everyone, this is your best chance to get feedback, network, and sell your work.

7. Closing the show Send reminders to the artist about the show closing a week before. Invite your email list to a last look party. Ask everyone to show up 1 hour before closing for the party. Get their thoughts and feedback about the show. Hand out checks for works sold or collect money for the organization so that checks can be dispersed within a week of the show closing. Check all work that is picked up off the inventory. Resolve any problems at that time.

Checklist: 1. Confirm the details (6 months to a year ahead)

2. Call for works (6months to a year ahead)

3. Collect information: (one to two months ahead)Final Inventory: (one to two weeks ahead of time)

4. Publicity: (based on the size of your organization and budget)
Post cards (e invite)
Show review

5. Hanging shows
Remind artists
Checking work in
Arranging the work
Hanging the show
Price Cards
6. Reception:

7. Closing the show/ pick up work
Send reminders
Check work out