February 23, 2009 | Alyson Stanfield

Submit a Museum Proposal

Recession, recession, recession! That's all we're hearing these days. Things are going to be tough for a while, but there's still a silver lining in every situation if you look at all the angles.

Carpe diem!

For instance, now would be a terrific time to put together an exhibition proposal for your local museum or art center. Museums are hurting these days. They're laying off staff and cutting back on budgets. You–the local artists–could be a budget-saver for them. I hate to put it this way, but you're a cheap program.

Jo-Ann Sanborn
Jo-Ann Sanborn, Beach Path.
Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches. ©The Artist

Museum exhibitions are often planned 2-4 years (or more) in advance. Big-budget exhibits may be scaled back right now or even canceled. Guess what? The gallery spaces still have to be filled with something! If you have the work and reputation to back it up, now is the time to propose your exhibit.

Art museums are a natural target, but don't forget about history museums, botanic gardens, zoos, science museums, and the plethora of other museums out there. The type of museum you contact will depend on your type of art and your subject matter.

Line up all of the details and include them in a solid proposal. Double-check the facts so that you're confident in the content you submit. Take a look at the previous newsletter Draft a Winning Exhibit Proposal for more information and tips.

It's always easier to ask for something when you have built a relationship, but, as they say, it never hurts to ask. The worst that can happen is that you get turned down, which leaves you no worse off than you were before you started the process. Think of the knowledge you'll gain!

One last piece of advice: While a solo museum exhibit might look nice on your résumé, it might be smarter to propose a curated group exhibit (2 or more artists) with a cohesive theme. Group exhibits are safer for museums to book if the artists aren't well known. Think of this as your first step toward a solo museum exhibit–not your only chance.

KNOW THIS———-~> It’s a good time to send an exhibit proposal to your local museum.

THINK ABOUT THIS—~> Where's the silver lining?

DO THIS————~> Seize this opportunity! Don't sit back and wait for something to happen to you or for the economy to get better. Take the lead! Spend a few hours researching your regional museums and prioritize your hit list.

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