Creating a Great Gallery Experience

Gallery Sculpture

Exhibition visitors. Photo by: Jeff Taylor – uncommon photography

One of the exercises I conduct with my Artrepreneurship students at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver is to brainstorm on what makes a great gallery experience.  Many artists show and sell their work in a physical gallery, many have only an online presence and many have both.  No matter whether your work is displayed in a physical location or in the virtual world, a great gallery experience matters.

A great brand experience makes you stand out from the competition

When you show your work, one of your highest priorities should be to create a great experience for those who attend your show and view your work. If you only have an online presence you will need to be creative in providing your viewer with a great experience.  The thing that makes great brands or companies stand out from their competition is providing a great experience that their audience remembers and talks about. A great experience encompasses many things such as:

  • Having a great product or service
  • Using the product or service is fun, educational, enlightening and functional
  • Being able to understand the product and its benefits
  • The product’s design, features and esthetics
  • The product’s packaging
  • Meeting or exceeding the customer’s expectations
  • Touching as many senses such as touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing
  • Great customer service and a desire to come back and tell their friends
Gallery Sculpture

Artrepreneurship students brainstorm and build a “Mind Map” on what it takes to create “A Great Gallery Experience. Click thumbnail for larger image.

Brainstorming ideas

Here are some of the ideas that my Artrepreneurship students came up with in their brainstorming session.  Some may seem a little bit off the wall but you never know…  I have also included a “Mind Map” of what the latest class came up with.  Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

The senses – sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch

  • Experiment with engaging more of the senses
  • Use colors in an effective manner
  • Proper lighting
  • Dramatic lighting
  • Laser lighting
  • 3-D glasses
  • Utilize scents and smells
  • Creative food and drink
  • Have music or a concert
  • Allow the audience to touch the work or the materials used where appropriate

The artist

  • Greeting and meeting those attending the show
  • The artist telling the story about themselves and their work
  • Make it easy and convenient to contact the artist
  • Show the artist at work
  • Personal follow up by the artist on names and email addresses collected
  • Ask attendees their impression of the gallery experience

The show and the audience

  • Make the gallery show a positive experience
  • Encourage audience participation
  • Make the experience interactive
  • Hold classes in conjunction with the show
  • Bring in guest artists
  • Create a fun experience
  • Create an educational experience
  • Have a contest or game
  • Incorporate social media and/or mobile marketing
  • Do a live webcast and/or online video
  • A video or presentation of how the work was made
  • Confetti, balloons, fireworks

The art, pricing and promotions

  • Have unique art offerings
  • Show only the best work
  • Use QR codes to identify the works and make it easy for visitor to contact you
  • Make sure the price and name for a piece are easy to find
  • Do a promotion such as purchase an art piece and get …
  • Offer free consultation, placing or hanging with the purchase of a piece
  • Have works at various price points so that people will not walk out empty handed
  • Give things away for free or don’t give things away for free
  • Have great price points

The venue and gallery staff

  • Have a location that is a cool place to be
  • Have a location that is a destination and convenient
  • Have gallery guests greeted in a friendly manner
  • Have gallery staff that can explain the work on display
  • Have gallery staff that is friendly and personable

Community Involvement

  • Hold gallery show in conjunction with community event
  • Sponsor a fundraiser
  • Bring in community celebrities
Gallery Sculpture

Exhibition visitors. Photo by: Jeff Taylor – uncommon photography

The bottom lines(s)…

OK, now you have some ideas on how to create a great gallery experience.  The more senses you can touch and more ways you can engage your audience, the more memorable your gallery experience will be.  You might want to experiment with some of these ideas and see what works for you.   If you have some examples of the things you have done to enhance your gallery experience the readers and I would be interested in your comments.  Good Luck!

By Neil McKenzie

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