How to Curate an Art Exhibition?


How to Curate an Art Exhibition?

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Visual art exhibition curator is like a music director, who steers the artists and creates a symphony for the audience. Curators have an eye for a variety of artworks, collaborate with various types of artists and stage their artworks for the audience. Essentially such profile will requires strong project management skills (i.e. planning, executing and controlling) to execute the project successfully. Visual art exhibitions provide various benefits for the artists, art lovers and society –

  • Cost effective platform for the artists to establish their brand, show case and sell their artwork to the art lovers
  • Show mirror to the society, reflecting upon its interests and concerns
  • To create awareness and inspire others to adopt art and to be a better human begin
  • Live interaction enhances artist’s learning, expands their network and market penetration
  • Provide aesthetic experience to the audience and promote art, culture and tourism

Though there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to curate an art exhibition, but below are the simplified list of steps for holding an art exhibition from start to finish –

Conceptualize and plan (Exhibition Start Date minus 6 month)

  • Define objectives of the proposed art exhibition
  • Identify theme and scope for the exhibition such as solo or group event, type of artworks to be displayed, no of participants, no of artworks per participant, type of participants and level of participants
  • Draft formal agreement and rules and regulations for the participants
  • Identify audience segment such as age, gender, profession such as interior decorators, art collectors etc.
  • Jot down possible expense heads such as rent for exhibition hall, marketing collateral design and printing, advertisement, digital marketing, local conveyance, travel, stay, lunch, work force, contingency etc.
  • Define budget and identify potential source of funding such as corporate with CSR funding, sponsors, contributors and participants’ fee
  • Explore associates and collaborators, who are willing to collaborate for the art exhibition and noble cause
  • Decide suitable date and venue for the event
  • Define detailed project plan i.e. Gantt chart with tasks, their time-lines, their dependencies and execution responsibilities

Induct core team members (Exhibition Start Date – 5 month)

  • Organizers for micro planning, execution and controlling the allocated tasks
  • Senior artists to shortlist the artworks
  • Digital marketing expert to run ads and manage the social media
  • Graphic designer to design the collateral such as invite, brochure, certificates, poster etc.
  • Website expert to update the website landing exhibition pages
  • Photographer and videographer to shoot the exhibition
  • Carter for business lunch
  • Travel agents for travel tickets, local stay and food arrangements
  • Helpers to collect, unpack, install and de-commission the artworks
  • Electrician to adjust focused light

Raise Funds (Exhibition Start Date – 5 month)

  • Collect funds from participants and sponsors

Book exhibition hall (Exhibition Start Date – 4 month)

  • Ensue that exhibition hall is centrally located and approachable, with good ambiance, spacious enough to accommodate artists, audience and sufficient parking space and suitable layout plan
  • Availability of amenities such as focused lights, air conditioning, food court and toilet facilities etc.
  • Suitable opening and closing timings preferably weekend and confirm that there is no conflict with other festivals & events

Engage artists (Exhibition Start Date – 4 month)

  • Circulate Whats App invites
  • Publish the advertisement on social media such as Instagram, Facebook and Youtube etc.
  • Opt for Google and social media advertisement
  • Generate word of mouth
  • Personal invites
  • Run advertisements on TV and radio
  • Do mass mailing & SMS

Select Participants and their artwork (Exhibition Start Date – 4 month)

  • Select participants
  • Shortlist their artworks
  • Collect details such as artist’s statement, artwork title, medium, size, price and artist phone number etc. for tags and brochure
    Brief the details and get the agreement signed

Guest of honor (Exhibition Start Date – 2 month)

  • Identify Chief Guest
  • Invite Guest of honor such as Senior Artists and eminent people related with art

Publicity (Exhibition Start Date – 1 month)

  • Use posters, leaflets, signboards, banners and hoardings
  • Send Whats App invites
  • Publish the advertisement on social media such as Instagram, Facebook and Youtube
  • Run Google and social media advertisement
  • Word of mouth
  • Personal invites
  • Run advertisement on TV and radio
  • Do mass mailing & SMS
  • Share the press release

Curtain Raiser (Exhibition Start Date – 15 days)

  • Invite press and participants
  • Welcome and introductory message
  • Participant’s interview
  • Share the press release
  • Refreshment

Artwork collection (Exhibition Start Date – 15 days)

  • Receive duly packed artwork and ensure it is not damaged and intact
  • Store the artwork in safe and secure place

Layout planning (Exhibition Start Date – 7 days)

  • Get the floor plans and start mapping out the artwork layout
  • Consider appropriate gap between artworks and artists
  • Focus on aesthetic experience for the audience

Installation of artworks (Exhibition Start Date – 2 days)

  • Collect the installation material such as thread/wire, hooks, scissor, ladder, measuring tape etc.
  • Ensure the artwork arrangement on the wall is within the cone of vision i.e. vertically height of 4 to 5 feet from the eye level
  • 3 rows for small paintings, 2 rows for medium size paintings, 1 row for big paintings
  • Focus light on the installed artworks

Inauguration (Exhibition Start Date)

  • Welcome and introductory message Chief Guest, eminent people, media, artists and audience
  • Chief Guest to address
  • Participant interviews
  • Share press release
  • Chief Guest to honor artists with award and certificate
  • Offer gift to Chief Guest, eminent artists and press
  • Take a group picture
  • Get testimonials from your audience
  • Photography, videography and live coverage of the show
  • Participants should stay at the venue so that they can interact with the audience
  • Provide refreshment and lunch

Decommission the artwork (Last Date of the Exhibition)

  • Uninstall the artwork
  • Repack the artwork
  • Transport the packed artwork to the destination or handover the artwork to the respective participants
  • Settle accounts such as security refund etc.

Post exhibition activities (Exhibition Start Date + 1 day)

  • Share the picture, videos and press coverage
  • Spread a word on social media
  • Note down the learning


Though curating an exhibition involves lots of work, but at the same time it a great way to gain experience, create a network with like minded people and earn money too. So let’s curate an art exhibition, make your the event fun filled, exciting and memorable.


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About Author

Artist Surinder Shanker Anand

I live in Chandigarh – the City Beautiful, situated in Northern India at Shivalik foothills. Since childhood, I was blessed with innate artistic abilities. My artistic expressions are engaged with the subjects related to humans portrait and body dynamics, nature and spirituality. I like to sketch using pencil, charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, pastel, oil, mixed media and digital tool such as Wacom Cintiq Pen/Tablet, CorelPainter, CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Adobe Premier, 3Ds Max and ZBrush etc. to create digital artwork. Passion in visual arts lead me to start Shanky Studio, offering a wide range visual arts services such as personalized portraits, customized paintings, graphic design and one-to-one visual arts classes for the students aspiring for various design courses such as NID and NIFT. I have conducted visual arts & craft workshops for Elante Mall and The North Country Mall / VR Punjab and various schools in and around Chandigarh. Some of the activities were directly conducted by me for Marvel Worldwide Inc., Mattel Inc. (Barbie), Rovio Entertainment Ltd. (Angry Birds), Hamleys Toy, Hasbro Inc. (My Little Pony) and Cartoon Network (Dexter’s Laboratory). Shanky Studio is also engaged in various CSR activities such as such as free visual art class, visual art exhibition at no-profit and no-loss basis and free sessions design career counseling. By profession, I am software professional, having over 35 years of experience in the IT, primarily in Analysis/Design, Software Development, Delivery, Project Management and rest of the phases of SDLC. I have worked at on-site with American Express (TX, USA), Nekema Inc (NJ, USA), Premier Inc (NC, USA), Syntel Inc (MI, USA), Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd (Mohali, India) and Semiconductor Complex Ltd (Mohali, India); and managed various on-site/off-shore Global IT projects. I am Masters in Economics from Panjab University, Chandigarh, India, with Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management.