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How to Design an Art Gallery

Art galleries are created to present work to the public audience. A gallery is a place where the artists' work can be removed from their studios and viewed in a neutral environment. Gallery spaces are successful when the space is not the primary focus. The role of the gallery is not to compete with the artwork, rather to create a blank space, which allows the artist’s work to dominate the space.

Make a list of functions for the art gallery. Most galleries have a gallery space, an offic, and a storage room. Each gallery is different in its specific needs and size requirements depending on the number of artists it represents, the amount of inventory on hand and the number of people working at the space.

Create an open, blank gallery space. Depending on the amount of space available, type of work shown, and scale of work the space will differ from one gallery to another. If the gallery shows a lot of work that hangs on walls, such as paintings or drawings, it is ideal to have plenty of wall space. Galleries that primarily show sculpture might need additional rooms for the sculpture to be displayed. Some galleries create moveable walls, which allow a space to transition from one show to another. Discuss these needs with the gallery owner.

Design an office space. Often, the office space is toward the front of the gallery, allowing the receptionist to welcome guests and answer questions as they enter. Determine the needs of this space, based on the amount of staff and other needs of the specific gallery. This space should be separate and not compete with the gallery space or artwork being displayed.

Light the space. Lighting is one of the most important features in gallery spaces. A well-lit show helps to highlight and present the work. Integrate lighting into the gallery design, keeping in mind any walls that might block the path of the light. Flexible lighting, such as track lighting is ideal for gallery spaces.

Integrate storage facilities. Galleries that show flat artwork, typically do not need large storage spaces where galleries that feature large sculpture or display work on pedestals, need much more storage space. Discuss the needs of storage, along with any insurance requirements for storing work. This space should be completely separate from the gallery space, but located in a space that is easy to move work from storage into the gallery.


Visit existing gallery spaces for inspiration when designing space.


  • Design walls that are steady enough for artwork to be hung.
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