A Faster Way to Display

Are you looking for a quick and easy way to display student art? What if I told you there was a way to create a display in under 10 minutes? Read on to find out how!

It all started when I got tired of all of the thumbtacks, bulletin boards, complex framing methods, and flyaway staples I was dealing with while displaying student art. I just didn’t have time for it, and I would rarely change student art because of the hassle.

Less rotating art on display not only made me and my program look bad, but it wasn’t fair to my hardworking students. So, when our school went under a renovation, I petitioned for a new way to display art: display rails.

Display rails are small strips that grip artwork. There are a variety of choices, but they all lock art into place with no staples, magnets or other adhesives. It’s awesome!

In my case, I just slide the art up behind the beaded strip in the rail. Then, once it catches, my work is done. I can slide up a whole class’s worth of art in a few quick minutes. I think they look nice, too. I opted for 2 rows and made sure that I could fit 12″ x 18″ paper between them.

When you want to release the papers, all you do is curl the paper up, and it quickly releases. This method makes taking down the work a 2-minute process as well.

Although it was an initial investment, these rails have never let me down when it comes to getting and keeping student work on display in a timely and organized fashion. If you’re looking to do something similar, you may want to ask your PTO to help with funding. That’s what I did! 

How do you fit the task of displaying student art around your school, without taking hours of time?

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • peggy

    What a great idea! where do you order the rails from? Do you need to specify a certain length? Thanks for all your tips! Peggy Cleary

    • Jessica

      Hi Peggy!
      I linked them in the article above. I found mine from Dick Blick, which is what I linked above. I also found them on Amazon:
      You buy them in segmented lengths and then put them together. I just measured my wall areas and found out how many units I needed to cover that wall space. Hope it helps!

      • Stephanie

        Hey Jessica,

        I also have an art room mom. She comes in once a week and hangs all my art work. I have shown her how I want them and she then comes and works on my displays. It is great!

        • Great! I have a retired art teacher who comes in. Getting the right help is really important.

  • I like these! 2 years ago I put up cork strips and now I’m sad to say our students have picked off cork in a lot of places making it hard to display work. Very sad! I also had help from PTO. What are the cost on the trap rails?
    BTW-enjoy your blog and find myself here atleast once a day browsing away! Thanks for sharing!

    • Jessica

      Deanne- So glad you are stopping by AOE!
      Picked cork is not fun…Neither are staples cluttering the whole floor under the cork rail. 12 inches of rail are around 10 dollars, it goes down as you buy more. I ordered mine through Dick Blick. Like I said, initial investment, lasts forever!

  • What a wonderful idea!

    Genius! Thank you so much for sharing this! I spend so much time hanging work!


  • Glenda

    Those hangers look nice and easy to work with. Unfortunately, due to strict fire code regulations any paper displays must be on the bulletin boards, with all 4 corners stapled. My principal follows this to a tee which is frustrating because I have been to other schools and they have work all over their hallway walls. Oh we have other work that are in frames…and a pain to change. Yes the exhibition of work is time intensive. Still it is nice to see what others are doing.

  • I have these…. I strongly dislike them. I think the main problem I have is the fact that my room is located on the main hallway. At the end of the day students run by and the wind that comes behind them slips my papers off the tracks. I had such a huge problem with this my first year that I almost tore them off the walls. When they had been on a few years, all it would take was one class walking by to cause at least 2 works to fall off. I still use them today but I reinforce each work with a piece of masking tape in the back. If I don’t do this, they slip right off.

    • Jessica

      That is too bad! Papers falling out dont’ seem to be a huge issue for me, but I bet it’s because of your location… but I do use tape sometimes because thicker paper can stick out at the bottom.

  • Michellehoile

    Jessica, you have no idea how much I envy your Trap Ease rails!!! My school has nothing but plexiglass frames because of newer fire codes, and there is nothing we can do to change it. I miss the days where I could display everyones’ art work. Now, I am forced to “choose” art that will fit into the limited number of frames. Enjoy the freedom!

  • Denise L. Lewis

    There is another similar product that I use called The Hold Up.  It has an adhesive backing, no rollers inside (sometimes the work can rip if the roller get stuck) and you see the entire artwork since it is made of clear plastic.  It’s been an investment — I order 6 or 7 strips each year, but it’s made displaying the art so much easier. 

  • Jaws3410

    Hey there! This might help with my displaying issues..all the walls of my school are either painted brick or concrete..this last week was very humid..everything that I hung fell down..Ive tried Gorilla tap, two sided mounting tape, and that gummie stuff..any idea of the track system can be attached to my difficult walls?

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  • Sandra

    could you tell me if you can put the art in a frame and still use the rail to hold them if all the frames were the same?

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  • Elena Cipolla

    I’m at high school art teacher who is looking for a wall to use empty wall space as a rotating gallery. I was just looking at that hanging system on Blick’s website. A question for you: can you hang material of different thicknesses on the same strip (such as a flat canvas alongside a work on paper)?

    Thanks for your help!