How to Hang Work in an Art Museum or Art Gallery

detail of art piece

I feel that this subject needs some attention. I’ve been focused on weird one-off solutions to everyday problems, but maybe a solid article on how to hang work in an art museum or art gallery. This is the future home of that article.

A quick outline off the top of my head:

  1. How to design the layout

Consider: Year, Theme, Color, Tone, texture, and Frame size or outer object dims

Order you want visitors to experience things (visitors go to the right first)

Figures to not look toward corners

  1. How to measure for placement

Equaspace whole room first (rough it first before using tape measure)

Cheat corners, add 2” or more depending on the piece

  1. Appropriate hardware and hardware installation

Wires – easy to install, forgiving, can tilt crooked over time

Cleats – easy and clean, sucked to the wall, easy to shim up

D rings – never tilting once installed. Hardest to install

  1. Ways lighting the installation

Even light centered on the work. Each piece has the same light level or brightness. Stand back and look at the room, not the works, does it feel even?

If you have ample fixtures try to use more than 1 fixture on the larger works. This may require a bit of metal screen to reduce the light a bit.

Watch out for the place the lights overlap, make sure it’s not too hot.

  1. How to determine pedestal heights

36” height is best for ADA

24” is nice for taller objects

4.5” to keep it off ground and safe from feet

  1. Placement of labels and didactics

1” below the centerline of the room. Ex- for a 60” centerline for art, the top of the label would be 59”. Pull labels over as far as possible, and let the work sing on its own. Don’t be so far that it’s hard to know which work it goes with.

Considerations, if the room has a lot of art, then space may not be possible. If it’s tight, make sure the visitor knows which piece the label is associated

  1. Make sure there is ample light for the label. This may mean sneaking it closer to the work to catch a bit of the halo of the light on the piece.
  2. If you have ample fixtures, you can give the label its own light source, and reduce the light levels with metal screen door material cut into discs. Stuff them into the fixture. DO NOT use the fiberglass type of screen door material, 100% steel type only.

18 and 20 point san serif is min for ADA compliance

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