Tips on exhibition layout and design
The ARTWORK is most important. We want the artwork to look good and we want the
viewing public to experience it in a meaningful way.
Simple is often best!
So, to create a successful exhibition we need to consider a number of factors:


A good exhibition design seems obvious and we understand that there is a reason for
the placement or groupings of the artwork. Some examples of logical exhibition layouts
Chronological –artwork displayed according to WHEN it was made. (Usually in
retrospective exhibitions)
Like With Like – artworks are placed together because they share things in common
• Medium – photos with photos, prints with prints etc
• Treatment – expressive, gestural paintings might go together
• Scale – artwork of similar size could be placed together
• Colour – monochromatic art works could possibly go together
• Genre – landscapes with landscapes etc
• Theme – artworks share ideas or style e.g. pacific art, pop art, kiwiana etc
When you think you have an idea how to group the artworks you then need to consider
the space you have to work with…


Where are the best spaces?
Are there dark areas or dead zones where people won’t go?
Do some walls seem better suited than others to the display of certain artworks? E.g.
Small wall spaces work well with small-scale artwork and large walls cope with large
artworks or a series of work.


What are your lighting sources? E.g. Natural daylight, spotlights, fluorescent tubes,
reflected ambient light
What is the quality of the light? Warm or Cool?
Can you direct it or modify it?
Is it adequate or do you need more light?

Where is the entry point? (Stairs, elevator). People usually (although not always) move
in a clockwise direction from the point of entry. You will most likely place exhibition
information such as title, artist name and explanatory text near the entrance for people
to read first as they arrive.
What is the first wall they see as they enter the room? This is a feature wall and you
want to put strong work here.
It makes sense to display a sequence of images from left to right

Place the artwork on the floor in front of the wall where they are to hang. This helps you
to visualise how the exhibition will look.
Move things around; try out different groupings and positions.
You may need to edit (take away) works if there is too much and it looks ‘busy’.
If the number of artworks is overwhelming you can try to place them into sets or
clusters. Your eye reads this set of individual artworks as ONE group.
So… 12 paintings in a row looks like more artwork than 3 grids made up of 4 paintings
in each.

Think of your audience. Artwork needs to be displayed at a consistent and comfortable
Adults eye level = 150 cm
Children’s eye level = 120 cm (approx.)
You should hang work so that the middle is at eye level.
Sculptures may need to stand on plinths or platforms to raise them off the ground so
that they can be seen at a comfortable height.

Try to keep the space between artworks consistent. If some artworks are placed close
together people will think that they are a pair. This may be the case and spacing gives
the viewer a clue as to how to read the artwork.
To measure spaces accurately:
1. Measure the wall
2. Add up the total of width measurements of the artwork
3. Subtract the total art measurement from the wall measurement. What
you have left is your space measurement.
4. Divide the space measurement by the number of spaces you require
(always one more space than the number of artworks)
N.b. To make it EASY: consider groups or grids of artworks as ONE artwork.