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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Art Of Exhibition

Putting your work on display, whether in a gallery, museum, local coffeehouse or your living room, is a rewarding opportunity to tell a visual story

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Fredric Roberts
Decide on the centerline position. This is the viewing height of the work, and it should be at a comfortable eye level. The centerline is the distance from the floor to the center of the frame. The standard is 58 inches, but I find 56 inches more comfortable. For installation, it’s better to hang from two points, even if you use picture-hanging wire; this keeps the work level. To figure out the nail positions, measure the height of the frame and divide by two to get the center. Add that number to 58 inches (if that’s the height you’re using). After measuring the distance from your hangers on the back of the frame to the top of the frame, subtract that number from the previous total. This is the height for the nails. Measure between the hangers to space the nails correctly.

Let’s say your frame is 20 inches wide and 16 inches high, and you want the center to be at 58 inches; 16 divided by two equals eight inches. Add eight inches to 58 inches, which equals 66 inches. If the distance from the hooks to the top of the frame is two inches, that number is subtracted from 66 to give you 64 inches. Measure 64 inches from the floor, and that’s the location for the hangers. Be sure to measure the hooks to the top of the frame every time because there’s no guarantee that they’ll be placed exactly the same for each picture.

Make sure the work is level, and make any necessary adjustments. Clean the surface of the glass or plexi, and touch up any marks you’ve made on the wall.

Fredric Roberts
If you’re exhibiting at home, you may not have many choices in how the work is lighted. A gallery or museum space has more flexible lighting that can be adjusted for the best presentation of the work.
Whether you’re curating the exhibition for a gallery or a wall in your home, the process is the same—edit, presentation, layout and lighting. After all of your hard work, it’s now time to step back and enjoy the show.

Deborah Klochko
is the Director of the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, www.mopa.org. See more of Fredric Roberts’ photography at www.fredricroberts.com. The Humanitas—Images of India exhibition will be at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego from May 3-September 14, 2008, before it begins a national tour.


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