How to Display Food at an Art Gallery Event

By Lucy Clarke
Having food and drink at a gallery makes the event more social and relaxing.

Art shows and events are carefully planned down to the last detail in order to create just the right atmosphere. Patrons are meant to feel comfortable and relaxed while browsing through the work. This is why food is usually available on site, in particular on the event's opening night. The food must be set up much in the same way as the art, so that it is complementary and accessible. Food can be displayed at an art gallery event in a few steps.

Set up the table. Select a table that is no wider than half of the room's length. It is not meant to be the central focus of the event, but it should be large enough to fit a good amount of food.

Place the table at least 2 feet away from the wall that is straight ahead when walking through the door. This will make it visible and inviting, and easy to navigate around while viewing the work.

Place a tablecloth over top of the table. Black table cloths are a good choice, as they don't detract from the art work.

Arrange appetizers and desserts in an artful way on their plates, suiting the event's theme if possible. For example, if the theme is "Spring Fling," arrange the items on each plate into the shape of a flower.

Set the appetizers on the end of the table that is closest to the entrance. Only place one plate of each individual appetizer to start.

Place any "main course" type dishes at the center of the table, setting only one plate of each option out to start. Common main course dishes include small sandwiches, sushi and pizza.

Place deserts at the farthest end of the table. Common deserts include cake that has already been sliced, and cookies.

Place plates, cutlery and napkins next to the appetizers. Use glass plates and silver cutlery in lieu of throw-away utensils.

Have individuals assigned to walk around serving wine. They should have wine that is already poured on trays, ready to distribute.

Place wine glasses and a nonalcoholic beverage at the end of the serving table. Punch that is kept fresh in a bowl with ice is a good choice. Simply place a ladle in the bowl so that guests can easily serve themselves.

Rotate food out as it disappears. Have new plates of each serving prepared to be set in place once one plate is gone. Setting solely one plate of each dish out at a time gives the table a cleaner and less crowded look.

Add decorations to the table. At the center of the table, place a vase of fresh flowers if there is room. If not, distribute flower petals across the table. Stick to the event's theme when adding additional decorations, perhaps placing some handwritten literary quotes around the table for an exhibition inspired by books.

About the Author

Lucy Clarke has been a freelance writer since 2007, generating creative content for the publications of each college she has attended. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual art from the University of Ottawa, a Bachelor of Fine Art in illustration and fashion design from the Ontario College of Art and Design and a creative writing diploma from George Brown College.