September 21, 2008 | Alyson Stanfield

Exhibition Proposals that Came Across My Desk

A lot of exhibition proposals came across my desk when I worked in art museums. Most were from exhibition touring companies, but some were from individual artists or art organizations.

In the museum, it was important that any exhibition we booked from outside our collection was (1) fundable, (2) educational, and (3) something that would bring people into our galleries.

Curators don’t always have ultimate control over what is exhibited. They must consult with educators (What programs could we line up with this exhibition? Would school groups come to see this?) … development directors (Could we get a grant for this? Is there a major donor that would partially fund this?) … the board of directors … and, of course, the director.

If you’re interested in showing your art in museums, I suggest knowing more about how they work.

I would say that 90% of the proposals from individual artists that came across my desk showed very little understanding of how a museum operates. They didn’t address our collections or ongoing exhibition program.

Come back tomorrow and I'll share a lot more about writing an exhibition proposal (updated post) — regardless of the venue.

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