It’s time to show off the ingenious artists you spend all day with! You and your students have been hard at work creating masterpieces all year. Mind-blowing work has been taking place in your art room. Finally, you are ready to reveal your masterpieces.
The tricky part is planning an art show that is just as remarkable as the art your students created. Whether tackling your first-ever art show or looking for new ideas, this list will help you set up an event that does justice to all the hard work you and your students have done.
Try some of these revolutionary art show hacks, and you will be well on your way to putting on your most remarkable show yet!
Tips for Preparing Art
1. Select themes and corresponding grade-level projects according to your display plan.
Think about your art show while you are planning your lessons for the school year. Choose one or two themes for the year and assign each grade a project that aligns with your vision. Then, when it’s show time, you will have the artwork for fun, cohesive all-grade displays like this Art Store.
2. Let your students choose which pieces they want to feature in the show.
If the volume of artwork is an issue, set a limit to the number of pieces you include for each student. You can select some key projects to showcase and give your students the freedom to choose a predetermined number of pieces they are excited to highlight.
3. Recruit as much help as you can get to divide and conquer as many tasks as possible.
You can take on this event with others! Read that again and then recruit, recruit, recruit. Parents, volunteers, and older students can lend a helping hand to the cause. Consider outsourcing all the hanging work to your helpers while you handle the matting and framing.
4. Replace labels with reusable or student-made options to simplify the process of tagging artwork.
Make reusable tags with just your students’ names that can travel up through the grade levels with them. Have students write artist statements to hang near their work. Provide blank labels and ask each student to write their label to stick to their work.
5. Put your students in charge of curating their art show to engage them in the entire creative process.
Presenting art aligns with key learning objectives in a variety of standards-based curriculums. Planning an art exhibition also promotes ownership and independence. Use this article as a guide as they take on the challenge.
Tips for Displaying Art
6. Ask your custodial staff for access to unused furniture in storage.
There is probably an area in your building where the maintenance team stores extra tables, chairs, shelves, and other odds and ends. Request access to this treasure trove from your friendly classroom janitor. You can transform these pieces into unique ways to display artwork, like this book cart.
7. Find smart ways to quickly and efficiently hang large volumes of artwork.
No matter how many pieces you decide to include in the show per student, there is still bound to be a boatload of pieces to hang! You will need a cheap, hassle-free way to get it all on the walls. Try using deer mesh or laminated poster board for surefire success.
8. Showcase multiple grade-level projects in one collaborative installation.
Get creative with how you group projects. Try separating 2D and 3D works into different rooms or sections, each with its own theme. Showcase different grade levels together for an immersive experience that everyone contributed to. Check out this Glow Gallery for inspiration!
9. Strategically place student artwork so they know where to find it on the day of the event.
Hang student work outside their classrooms or walk students through the display beforehand so they know where their work is. This way, none of the energy and excitement students arrive with on the night of the event will be wasted looking for their pieces.
10. Seek out unexpected, novel places to display art to spread beyond the walls of your school.
Since you and your students have worked so hard to make art and plan a fantastic exhibition of your creations, you want as wide an audience as possible to see it! Fences, libraries, and local businesses offer unique community spaces to display art outside your school.
Tips for Community Engagement
11. Find creative ways to market your art show to ensure your community is in the know.
Go beyond the traditional newsletter and school social media methods for spreading the word. Send home postcards, certificates of achievement, or stickers with information. Ask parents to display signs in their yards. Chalk the sidewalks in front of your school. Use your imagination!
12. Involve the performing arts in a collaborative showcase to reach a larger audience.
Each arts discipline has its dedicated enthusiasts. Cater to them by planning an event that includes art, music, drama, and dance. Adding performances invites guests to spend more time taking it all in at your event.
13. Prepare hands-on activities for students and families at the event.
Have volunteers run interactive, theme-based art stations. Invite a guest artist to run a mini workshop of their choice. Ask your local art store to run a raffle. It’s a great chance to connect your school to art advocates in the community.
14. Invite local businesses and suppliers to donate prizes for an art show scavenger hunt.
Give your guests an incentive to look at all the artwork by making a game out of it. Participants receive a prize courtesy of a local business or supplier in exchange for completed forms. Draw a lucky scavenger to win a prize basket at the show’s end!
15. Turn your show into a mini-marketplace to offer visitors a chance to shop from local makers.
Set up tables for artisans and artists to showcase their wares throughout your exhibition space. Your guests can look at the fantastic art and leave with a piece of the magic to take home. This guide gives you all the information you need to know to make it happen.
Are you excited to show off what you and your students have done? It’s time to dust off that pile of artwork, bring in your people, and get to work. Organize your show around themes to give your art preparation and display a solid foundation. Add activities, gamify your exhibit, and invite community participation to make your show an event to remember. Pick your favorite tip and get your show on the road—literally!
Which art show tip will you use this year to make your show remarkable?
What hacks do you have for preparing and displaying artwork?
How do you involve the local community in your art exhibitions?
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.