How to organise an art exhibition in 15 easy steps…

1. So you want to organise an art exhibition? Wait for the call from your gallery (in my case ONCA Gallery in Brighton). Or find a space to hold your show – heck, I’ve heard of exhibitions in pubs, cinema foyers, laundrettes and even inside a car.

2. Make sure you have enough work to show in the space and if you don’t have enough – create some. And in time.

3. Make a plan of the gallery space and work out what will go where. If there are any unusual needs (like an electricity point nearby – one of my pieces needed a lightbox for example), find that out from the gallery and ask some questions about how your pieces can work best.

4. Understand the hanging system in the gallery and frame what needs to be framed. Make sure the fittings are appropriate – mirror plates or hooks? Framing takes time and is expensive but there are ways to work around that. In my case, some of my prints were simply clipped up unframed but the majority were already framed.

5. If you want to create your own branded visuals, now is the time to do it. Maybe make a poster with important details that can be used online and printed for the real world. Also think about a branded private view invitation for your guest list. Many galleries provide this service.

6. Send out invitations to your guest list well in advance (-say three weeks). Create an event on online media and invite as many people as you can. Facebook, Tweet and Insta it.

7. Send a list of images with prices plus some information about you and your work to the gallery for their pre-show publicity. Check with the gallery how much commission they take and price accordingly. Some jpegs of images or your poster are vital. No point talking about a show without having visuals.

8. Write and send out a press release to at least three local news sources, if not more national sources like Arts News (run by the Arts Council in the UK). Many galleries provide this service.

9. Think about what will go in the gallery window to attract visitors in. My show was only on for a few days so something striking was imperative. A large picture or something else?

10. Wrap your work securely so it is protected and organise how to get your pieces to the gallery in time.  I was glad to have some handy help on offer.

11. Do not leave any of the work outside the gallery by mistake. Like I did.

Watch a video of one of my original pictures being stolen from outside the gallery here.

(In the UK, call 101 for Sussex Police quoting crime reference 47170088684 if you recognise this man or have seen the Map of Brighton).

12. My gallery hung the exhibition for me. Do you need to be there?

13. Have you thought about what people will drink at the private view? Do you need to buy alcohol or juice? Sometimes you can buy sale or return and hire glasses… Does the gallery provide this for you?

14. For the private view, be there on time.

15. Celebrate!


  1. Sue Hall - reply

    Thank you Helen, this was so useful. I am helping to organise an art exhibition about plastic pollution in the oceans at the North Sea Observatory Lincolnshire next year. We have not done this before and your points are so helpful. Kind regards, Sue Hall

    • Helen Cann - reply

      That sounds amazing! Best of luck with it!

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