Preparing Installation Work for Exhibition

Weather it is a group or a solo exhibition if you are showing in a Public Art Gallery you have responsibilities. NEVER assume anything, always ask. There are a number of responsibilities you have as a exhibiting artist but in this post we’re going to talk about the installation of an installation work.

What you need to know:

Ask for a floor plan for the space?
If at all possible visit the gallery yourself to become familiar with the space and take your own measurements. If you can’t be there ask for a floor plan and pictures. You may need to make adjustments if for example the ceiling height is higher/lower or your allotted wall space is different than anticipated.

When are the installation dates?
If you can be there to install try to do it earlier rather than later. This will give you the time you need in case something unforeseen happens and save you from being there until midnight or finding yourself short of materials and all the stores are closed.

What technical support is available?
Again never assume that the gallery will know what to do with your work. More often than not artist run centers and galleries that are not the MoMA, have student installers who are there to learn and earn credits.

What equipment and tools are available for installation?
If your work has any special hanging requirements talk about it with your gallery contact. You might be required to supply the special installation items so give yourself plenty of time to source suppliers. Make sure you describe your work, how it was made and what attacheds it to the wall.

I always bring my tools with me because I know I’ll have the right size drill bit, etc. Also if you need electrical outlets ask about extension cord routes to your installation, you might have to supply your own extension cords.

Do a dry run: install your work in your studio.
Chances are you have done this to create the work in the first place, but if you are grouping pieces to create an installation work like I have done with the piece Cruciform, then don’t think that you can figure it out on site. A dry run will help you work the bugs out of the installation process and it confirms your dimensions.

Map it: do a drawing indicating dimensions and a starting point for the install. It will also make the real install go so much quicker and smoother.

If the show is out-of-town give the gallery installation instructions and drawings with dimensions. Photograph the work from various angles already installed and send them with the instructions.

If there is a catalogue being published for the exhibit, ask what type and how extensive a publication it will be. Often artists with installation work will not have a professional print ready image of the piece being shown. Don’t count on getting those images from the gallery when they document the exhibition as this may be too late to be included in the catalogue.

At the end of the exhibit
Find out when the work will be coming down and try to be there to disassemble the work. Sometimes the work doesn’t come down the same way it went up so make sure that uninstall instructions are also included with the work when sending out-of-town.

Always be ready and you will have the best show ever.

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