A TFAO Report: Planning, Organizing and Touring Art Exhibitions
(above: Jervis McEntee (1828-1891). Mount Desert Island, Maine, 1864, oil on canvas, John Wilmerding Collection. Picture from National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.) Source: Wikimedia Commons - public domain*)
This Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) report is directed towards the more advanced collector. It is also useful to individuals interested in learning how exhibits are produced.
TFAO encourages individuals with extensive collections to consider publicly exhibiting important art works from their collection. The owner may be the heir of the estate of an artist or a person who has collected extensively over a period of time. A motive for lending a private collection can be to share viewing of the collection with the public in a safe setting with the benefit of professional curation. The owner may also wish to add to the monetary value of art works in the collection through public exposure. In a September 2006 The Art Newspaper article by Adrian Ellis titled "The Implications of Art Fund Collections Shown in Museums," Mr. Ellis says:
TFAO's publication Resource Library contains two informative essays on one collector's thought process in planning and organizing two innovative exhibitions. They are Sharing Your Paintings -- or --"It's Better Than Selling Hot Dogs" by Thomas Davies and An American Art Collection in Hong Kong also by Mr. Davies. Collectors may enjoy reading about museum exhibitions of other private collections in TFAO's listing of Collections of Historic American Art.
Most exhibitions are held at only one venue. Venues include commercial galleries, museums and art centers plus many other types of facilities. Some exhibitions, however, are organized for touring to multiple venues. See Resource Library's Museums Index for names of American museums and art centers. See the Academies, Associations, Ateliers and Societies Index of Resource Library for names of other non-profit organizations which may originate or present exhibitions.
Some venues have the ability and staff to organize exhibitions held at their own facility. Others host exhibitions organized elsewhere. Some institutions have the ability to plan and manage exhibition tours. While venues sometimes tour exhibitions that they have organized, they usually do not manage the touring of exhibitions organized by others. For information on elements of planning and executing an exhibition see the Exhibitions section of Museums Explained.
Major art dealers may have the capability to organize exhibitions that are of sufficient quality to be toured at non profit venues. Exhibitions organized by dealers as a rule contain art for sale. In some instances, however, art may be lent to a dealer-organized exhibition by individuals whose art is not for sale. Some commercial galleries and dealers are members of professional associations such as the Art Dealers Association of America, Private Art Dealers Association, Fine Art Dealers Association, and the National Antique & Art Dealers Association. There are also many statewide and even citywide art dealer associations. The associations can refer persons interested in lending art to a member.
Before art works from a collection are accepted for an exhibition they may need to be cleaned or repaired. TFAO provides references for conservation of art works in TFAO's page titled Conservation.
Curators at Museums
Museum curators may be of substantial help in judging the appropriateness of an exhibition and further assistance. See Resource Library's Sources of Articles and Essays Indexed by State within the United States for names of museums and art centers in your vicinity. To learn more about the role of curators, see see the Staff page of Museums Explained.
There are dozens of professional organizations that provide in-depth assistance in the organization and touring of exhibitions. Consultants specialize in the types of clients they serve, including institutions and collectors, by scope and budget of a project, type of client, and exhibition subject.
MuseumsUSA maintains a list of over 1,000 consultants and vendors, many offering specialist services relating to exhibitions, including a "Traveling Exhibition" category containing the names of both commercial and non-profit entities that offer services related to the planning, organization and touring of exhibitions.
An additional way to identify organizers and touring advisors is to go to the Web sites of museum organizations to identify their annual conclaves and commercial exhibiters. The largest of these associations is the American Alliance of Museums. Several states have their own museum associations. See the website for National Association of Museum Exhibition (NAME) which is the AAM Standing Professional Committee on Exhibition.
You may find useful the articles within TFAO's Resource Library to identify organizers of exhibitions harmonious to your interests. Resource Library articles usually identify the organizers. Search the TFAO website using keywords such as the names of professional exhibit planning and touring organizations.
Once you have identified prospective consultants, discuss your project with them. Inquire about referrals if their service is not aligned with your needs.
Some professional exhibit planning and touring organizations include:
TFAO does not recommend or endorse any specific organization providing organization and touring services.
In 2004 The Chubb Corporation issued a news release titled "Chubb Provides Tips For Art Collectors Before Lending Art" containing advice to collectors considering lending art works to museums for special exhibitions. Here is the news release in its entirety:
Lending of individual art works
For collectors who wish to lend individual art works to an exhibition see TFAO's Lending Art to Museums for Special Exhibitions.
For further reading:
Developing Museum Exhibitions for Lifelong Learning, Gail Durbin; Stationery Office Books, 1996, 0-112905-52-8
Evolution of an Exhibit, The, Ruth Freeman & Paul Martinovich; Ontario Museum Association, 2001, ISBN: 0-920402-30-5
Exhibitionist, published since 1981 by National Association of Museum Exhibition (NAME) in the Spring and Fall of each year
Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach, Beverly Serrell; AltaMira Press / American Association for State & Local History, 1996, ISBN: 0-7619-9106-9
Exhibition Planning & Management: Reprints from NAME's Recent & Recommended, Sara Dubberly; American Association of Museums, 2000, ISBN: 0-931201-54-3
Exhibitions in Museums, Michael Belcher; Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992, ISBN: 1-56098-324-8
Exhibits for the Small Museum: A Handbook, Arminta Neal; American Association for State and Local History Book Series, ,ASIN: 0910050236
Good Show! - A Practical Guide for Temporary Exhibitions, 2nd edition, Lothar P. Witteborg; Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, 1991, ISBN: 0-86528-007-X
Manual of Museum Exhibitions, The, edited by Barry Lord & Gail Dexter Lord; AltaMira Press, 2001, ISBN: 0-7591-0234-1
Museum Exhibition :Theory & Practice, David Dean; Routledge, 1997, ISBN: 0-415-08017-7
Museum Management Program, National Park Service: Bibliography
On the Road Again: Developing and Managing Traveling Exhibitions, Rebecca A. Buck & Jean Allman Gilmore; American Association of Museums, 2003, ISBN: 0-931201-85-3
Standards Manual for Signs & Labels; American Association of Museums / Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995, ISBN: 0-931201-37-3
Text in the Exhibition Medium, edited by Andrée Blais; Société des musées québéco, 1995, ISBN: 2-89172-024-5
Thinking About Exhibitions, Sandy Nairne, Bruce Ferguson, Reesa Greenberg; Routledge, 1996, ISBN 0415115906
Art: Live and on Tour: 18 minutes, 1990. "This lively and informative video explores the teamwork and commitment behind the making of the exhibition Impressionism: Selections from Five American Museums, a collaborative effort of the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City), the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the Toledo Museum of Art. The program answers such questions as: How do 5 museums team up to plan and promote a major exhibition? Who chooses the works of art, and how are they packed and shipped? How is the exhibition space redesigned to accommodate these works, and who decides where the paintings will hang? How will the exhibition be promoted and interpreted for the public? This engaging program takes viewers on a tour behind the doors of 5 American museums to look at the people and jobs involved in creating a special exhibition." (text courtesy Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
Sharing the Dream: Brian Lanker Photographs - Black Women Who Changed America: 45 minutes, 1989. The Michigan Museums Association Video Lending Library says of the film"Brian Lanker spent two years developing an exhibition documenting 75 African-American women who changed America. This video explores the creation of the exhibition and the photographer's vision, frustrations and triumphs as he carried out the project. This video provides a chance to see how the exhibition developed behind-the-scenes as well as opening night at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. in 1989."
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TFAO's Distinguished Artists catalogue provides online access to biographical information for artists associated with this state. Also, Search Resource Library for online articles and essays concerning both individual artists associated with this state's history and the history of art centers and museums in this state. Resource Library articles and essays devoted to individual artists and institutions are not listed on this page.
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Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.
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