Exhibition Check List

Written by Louise Ross

When planning an exhibition there are many things to consider and arrange.  Below is a comprehensive schedule to assist you with putting together an exhibition.

Planning stage

  • Exhibition concept -  This is perhaps the most important part.  What is the concept behind your exhibition? What is the purpose of your exhibition? Once you have answered these questions you can begin to move forward.
  • Exhibition title – decide on a title for the exhibition
  • Artists/ artwork – decide what artwork you will be showing as part of your exhibition.  Part of this process will include finding artists, visiting studios and requesting work from either artists, galleries or museums.
  • Venue/Space – where will the work be shown?  Find a space to have your exhibition
  • Budget – how are you going to fund your basic costs? Decide whether the artists will pay a participation fee or maybe you are going to rely on funding.  In the latter case you will need to apply quite far in advance of your proposed exhibition dates.
  • Catalogue – are you going to produce a catalogue? Who will design this? Who will print it?

Once you have sorted out all of the above then move onwards:

Initial implementation

  • Consignment notes and contracts – you should sign consignment notes and contracts with artists as agreement of the artists’ participation in the exhibition.  Artright has some useful contracts which you can refer to for this purpose
  • Transportation – do you need to arrange the transportation or shipping of any work to your venue?  If so, start contacting shippers/movers for quotes and decide what is the best and safest way to get the artwork to your venue.
  • Loan forms – do you need to arrange the loan of any work?  This may be necessary if you are loaning artwork from a gallery or museum.  Again, a sample loan agreement can be found on Artright’s website.
  • Technical requirements –find out if any of the artworks or artists have specific technical requirements.  If so, you may need to arrange equipment.
  • Lighting – how is the existing lighting in the space? Do you need to arrange additional lighting?
  • Insurance – find out if you need to arrange insurance for the venue that you are using.  Insurance is often required before artists will participate in exhibitions.
  • Equipment – find out if any special equipment is required.  If so, you will need to source this equipment.  This could be screens, projectors, microphones, special lighting, or anything that the artist or artwork might need to make it a reality.
  • Framing – do you need to have any works framed? If you do, get them to the framer as soon as possible.
  • Installation – decide who is going to install your show.  You could either do it yourself or find specialist installers and technicians to help you.
  • Preparation – does the space need to be prepared? You may need to paint and clean the space before installing.  If so, you will need to buy paint and cleaning equipment and source people to do this for you.
  • Security – you may need to arrange security for the space.
  • Assistant – do you need someone to sit in the space when the exhibition is up? Who will do this? Is it view by appointment only?

4-8 weeks before the exhibition

  • CVs &  Biographies  from artists – request from artists, you will need these for press and publication purposes
  • Artist statements – request from artists, will also be needed for press purposes
  • Press release – put together a press release based on your curatorial concept
  • Images – decide on a publicity image.  You may also need to request high-resolution images from all participating artists for this purpose.  Images should be of the artwork that is being shown as part of the exhibition.

2-4 weeks before the exhibition

  • Send out press releases with an high-resolution image to all relevant press contacts – you can find out who these are by contacting publications, you want to know who is responsible for lifestyle and listing information. This should be done at least two  weeks before your event- newspapers normally need a week minimum and magazines three months.
  • Plan the layout of the show – take time on this, it’s important
  • Bar – decide whether you are going to have a bar.  You may need to order alcohol and glasses.  Don’t forget to find barmen and a table.  Consider: is it a cash bar?  Do you have a cash float? Do you have bottle openers? Do you have a price list?
  • Opening speech –are you having an opening speech? Who will give this?
  • Music – is there music? A dj? A band?  If you decide to have music you will need to arrange everything connected to this too.
  • Invitations – do you have a mailing list? Do you have a digital invitation that you can send out? Facebook? Twitter? Flyers?  Try and send out invitations at least two weeks before the exhibition.

1-2 weeks before your exhibition

  • Artworks should be delivered to your venue
  • The venue should be cleaned and painted.
  • Buy all tools, nails, screws, equipment needed for installing or confirm that your installation team will have everything they need.
  • Labels – plan and print your labels.  These can take numerous forms, you need to decide what is most suitable for your show  - you could use vinyl, printed out sheets, small labels, mounted on foamcore or anything else that seems appropriate.
  • Exhibition text – do you want a printed out text as an intro to your show? Is this hung up or stuck on a wall? Is this a printed handout?  If so, you will need to arrange the printing of this.
  • Price list – is there a price list? Are works for sale? Check prices with artists if they are and plan your price list.  You could have the prices on your labels or as a separate hand-out.
  • Reminder email – send out a reminder email a few days before your exhibition.

Days leading up to the exhibition

  • Install install install
  • Deal with any last minute emergencies

Opening night!  Hopefully everything goes according to plan.

Some notes: for everything connected to your exhibition think it through carefully, think about every possibility and follow ideas through logical.  Ask yourself what you need to do to implement something and when you think you have it figured out then ask yourself what you have left out.  This way you will be thoroughly prepared.  Don’t forget the little things such as nails, levels, prestik, hammers, extension cords, double adapters, DVD players, connectors, lights, ladders, plasters, masking tape and pencils.

If you are properly prepared the exhibition will be a success.

Good Luck!