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Tips for Hanging an Art Show

Tips for Hanging an Art Show

I’m a member at Propeller Art Gallery, an artist-run gallery in Toronto. This Summer I co-organized a group show. If you find yourself hanging an art show, you may find these tips helpful. First of all, check with the gallery as they may have a hanging system and their own recommendations for you to follow.

You may want to first read these tips for framing and wiring your paintings.

Hang art by its center and use a standard height throughout the exhibition.

The rule of thumb is to hang art at eye-level, with the centre of the painting or grouping 57-60 inches from the floor. By placing the centre of the artwork at eye level, it can be viewed comfortably. Using a standard height throughout an exhibition creates continuity giving the gallery a professional look. This doesn’t mean that all works need to be at the same height. Hang paintings in groupings. Treat a grouping of paintings as one unit and hang from the centre of the grouping.

Group paintings

I’ve been really impressed by the way Propeller shows are hung and how they create groupings. Groupings highlight visual and themed connections between works, negative space between groupings, gives the eye a place to rest.

Modern gallery displays tend to leave ample wall space between groupings. Within a grouping, remember to also allow space between paintings for your labels.

A creative grouping can be a take on the salon-style hanging popular in the 19th century where dozens of pictures of varying sizes were stacked floor to ceiling. But keep in mind that it will be difficult for people to see the pieces that are hung up high or down low.

It’s helpful to lay the grouping of paintings out on the floor in front of the wall to visualize how you want to hang them.

Hanging Formula – How to hang art

When calculating the hanging formula we used the standard of 58 inches, later realizing that it may be easier to work in centimetres instead, eliminating the need to add or subtract fractions. We suggest using 150 cm instead of 58 inches.

Calculate the Nail Height

  1. measure the height of the piece in centimetres, then divide that number in half
  2. add 150 centimetres
  3. measure the drop. The drop is the distance from the top of the artwork to the wire with the wire pulled tight, then subtract the drop
  4. you now have the nail height and you can mark the wall

1/2 height in cm + 150 cm – drop = Nail height

Mark the Wall & Hammer in the Nail

Once you have the nail height, use a tape measure and put a pencil mark where the nail(s) should be placed. We used flat head common 1 1/2 inch nails. For large works, two nails may be necessary. Use a level to be certain that the nails are the same height to ensure that the painting will hang straight.


Creating labels for your artwork is easy when you use the Avery Label maker free online account. You can create an Excel Spreadsheet and then import all of your labels.

  1. We bought clear Avery Labels #7663 – 2” x 4”
  2. Go to the Avery website and create an account https://www.avery.ca/customer/account/login/
  3. Start a New Project
  4. Enter the Product #7663 (for clear 2” x 4” labels)
  5. Select the Design (plain landscape)
  6. Click on T (text) create a Text box for your label information – Name, Title, Medium, Price.
  7. Choose the layout, font, size of the font, etc.
  8. SAVE as you go along, no auto Save
  9. When finished click on Preview & Print to proof the page(s)
  10. Download the PDF and then run the labels through your printer

In a one-person exhibit, your name doesn’t need to be prominent on every label. For a group show, the artist’s name should stand out. This is what we did, your gallery may suggest something different.

Artist Name in Bold

Painting Title – in italics

Tools you need to hang an art show

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Step Stool / Ladder
  • Pencil & Eraser
  • Masking tape
  • Nails
  • Hammers
  • Wall Paint
  • Printed Labels
  • Extra picture wire and D-rings

Be ready to do touch-ups

My last piece of advice is to be prepared to do touchups. Bring a heat gun in case a corner gets dinged and you need to fuse a chip back on. Bring a magic eraser to clean up any scuffs on the walls or plinths. If you’ve painted the edges of your cradled panels or frames with paint, bring extra paint and a brush along for any emergency touch-ups.

Share your tips for hanging an art show

I welcome your comments. Please add your own tips for hanging an art show in the comments below.

About Ruth Maude

I enjoy experimenting with a variety of encaustic materials, techniques and tools. Everything I learn pushes my creative journey in new directions. I share what I've learned with other artists through my blog All Things Encaustic.

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6 thoughts on “Tips for Hanging an Art Show”

  1. In regards to Tina’s question about tilted frames, you can add some felt spacers to the back bottom corners. Stack one on top of the other as necessary. This will level the viewing surface with the wall.

  2. Hello Ruth,
    Do you have any tips on using a gallery’s hanging system without having the art tilt too far forward? I tried putting my hooks/wire closer to the top of my pieces, as well as, mounting an extra “step’ shaped hook at the top of the frame to catch the framing system to try to pull the frame closer to it. These things helped somewhat, but still had quite a tilt from the wall. It just didn’t look as professional as I would have liked.
    Thank you for any suggestions.

    1. I know exactly what you mean. Check with the gallery to see if they have any good suggestions. Some galleries suggest hanging from D-rings, and not from a wire. The D-rings are mounted 1-2″ from the top of the panel. Two hangers are needed for each painting. Adjusting the tautness of the wire or lowering the wire further down the panel may help. Good luck!

  3. Kathie Bridges, Rockford, Il

    Ruth, I visited your gallery & found your artwork to be astonishing & beautiful! All Things Encaustics is also a generous fantastic resource for encaustic artists at every level. Thank you

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