What Is an Art Exhibition?

woman looking at artwork

Updated: 04/21/2024
by Anne MacLeod
Studio Assistant, Tribeca Printworks

An art exhibition is any space where art is displayed to be viewed by an audience. Like most things in the world of art, this term can be tough to pin down because it means different things to different folks. Generally, art exhibitions are filled with tangible artistic displays like paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures, performances and videos.

The History Behind Art Exhibitions

The first art exhibitions, opened in France and England in the 18th century, were tastemakers. These galleries set the expectations for art and artists of the time, including their reputations and the price of their work. The most famous of these early exhibitions includes The Paris Salon, which opened in 1737, and the Royal Academy in London, which opened in 1769.

Smaller exhibitions began opening to display artwork rejected by the major galleries. By the 19th century, most major cities worldwide housed art exhibitions that displayed art from artists of varying popularity. Fast forward to today, and you can find galleries and exhibitions of all types just about everywhere.

Types of Art Exhibitions

When you picture an art exhibition, you probably imagine the white cube filled with works from different artists, or a museum gallery displaying a collection of famous pieces. Both of these are exhibits, but there are endless possibilities for what makes an art exhibition.

Art exhibitions can be displayed virtually anywhere, from white-cube galleries to installations along the boardwalk at your nearest beach. Most exhibitions last for a few days or a week, but some housed in museums last months, and others are permanent installations that remain in place.

There are several types of art exhibitions, including group and solo, commercial and non-commercial, art fairs and traveling exhibitions. Unless you create your own, you’ll find most galleries are juried, open or invitational, meaning you may have some competition to display your work.

Recently, we’ve seen more options for virtual and online art exhibitions. Major museums have created 3D walkthroughs and virtual tours of famous exhibits, and smaller galleries have begun doing the same. The neat thing about online art exhibitions is that the internet provides a virtually unlimited audience for your work.

The Importance of Art Exhibitions

Art exhibitions are vital tools for artists at any level. They allow you to get your work out of your studio and in front of an audience who can see and appreciate it. Exhibitions are often an excellent opportunity to connect with an audience and sell pieces of artwork.

Beyond the obvious display of talent, art exhibitions allow artists to deliver a message to their audience, teach a lesson, raise awareness or share a new idea.

Prepare Your Work for an Exhibition

If you’re preparing for an art exhibition, the team at Tribeca Printworks can help! We offer a wide range of custom printing and framing options to help you create everything you need for your display, including large, museum-quality prints and frames made to your exact specifications.

Our team consists of artists and photographers like you, so we have tons of experience preparing for exhibitions. We can provide advice, guidance and free estimates during a one-on-one consultation to help you prepare. Stop into our SoHo studio any time, or use our online contact form to schedule an appointment with our team.