Shhh…The Secret to an Awesome Art Show

I have a confession to make. A secret really. I love putting on my annual art show! Yes, some of you just went back and reread that sentence to make sure you read it correctly. Now, you might be scrolling as quickly as you can down to the comments section to tell me how crazy I am and that putting on an art show is really stressful, and hard, and overwhelming, and the bane of your existence. And I would agree with you. Putting on an art show can feel like all those things at times.

secret to art show
Over the years, however, I’ve figured out some really great strategies for making the entire process easier and more exciting. When the masses file in, it’s so gratifying to sit back and see all of the hard work really pay off.

One big thing I’ve learned is that in order to set up a successful event, you have to take some pointers from the experts. For example, you can approach the design for your art show like that of a museum exhibit designer. Think about what arrangements might be the most visually appealing or impactful. When you go to a museum, it’s clear that things aren’t just thrown up on the wall without thought. Make sure you take the same care with your students’ work. It will be clear if you hang art in the same way the abstract expressionists painted! 😉

One other secret that I’ve learned from those fancy museum exhibits is to keep the masses moving through your show. One of the best ways I’ve found to make this happen is signage and, more specifically, color-coded maps. No one wants to come to an art show and not have a clue where his or her artwork is. By employing color-coded maps, my guests can flow through the exhibit easily and find themselves immersed in a variety of different artworks, including the ones they came to see.

Being that I love art shows, I could talk for hours on the subject. In fact, I’m thrilled to present on the topic for the AOE 2015 Online Winter Conference, happening at the end of January. I’d love to share more strategies with you to help make your art show a breathtaking event.

Time for the truth, do you love your art show or love to hate it? Why?

What, in your opinion, makes a successful art show?


Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jennifer Borel

Jennifer Borel is one of AOEU’s Adjunct Instructors and Academic Advisors and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She runs her own photography business and is passionate about students exploring the medium.

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