Art Industry Contexts - Types of Galleries/Exhibition Spaces

Students must research examine and explain the preparation and presentation of artworks in a range of exhibition spaces and discuss the various roles, processes and methods involved in the exhibition of works.

Art Industry

The term art industry was first mentioned in 1970. It referred to a collection of professionals involved in the making, selling and displaying of art works. It includes people who have dealings with the art industry, such as curators, auctioneers, paint makers, education officers, designers as well as galleries and other art spaces.

Art Galleries
Art galleries are spaces where artwork is exhibited for audiences to view it on display.

There are three main types of galleries:

  • Public
  • Commercial/Private
  • Artist Run / Alternative

Public Galleries:

  • Owned by the public.
  • Professionally managed and permanently staffed – The NGV is world standard, staff are highly qualified in their areas. There is typically a large staff that cover diverse areas including; administration, exhibitions, education and public programs, development and marketing, media, design and publication, retail, visitor services, exhibition design and installation, conservation and preservation, invigilation and security. The smaller the organisation the smaller the team that provides these essential services.
  • Run by a board of trustees or management – legally constituted
  • Usually federally funded. The major source of funding is from a mix of local, state or federal money. Another source of funding is ‘in-kind’ or through donations or bequests.
  • Not for profit – generally works cannot be sold
  • Promote special exhibitions – videos, tapes, merchandising as well as written articles
  • The role of public galleries is to:
    • Provide public access to art works
    • Acquire art works from a range of mediums, styles and production eras. Many galleries deal with specific mediums /art
    • Promotion of Art - Formulate policies in the development of collections of art works to ensure that money is spent responsibly and that collections are valuable in terms of their artistic importance
    • Educate the public and special interest groups – programs for school – often have an education officer
    • Conserve works that are historically or artistically important – NGV collection goes back 40,000 years.

  • Public art spaces include the National Gallery of Victoria, International, the National Gallery of Victoria, Ian Potter Gallery, and The Monash Gallery of Art (MGA). Regional Galleries include: Tarrawarra. Bendigo Art Gallery, Mornington Art Gallery, McClelland Sculpture Gallery.
  • Contemporary Galleries funded by the government include: Contemporary Gallery of Photography, Australian Centre of Contemporary Art (ACCA), Heide Museum of Modern Art, Ian Potter Centre for Contemporary Art (Melbourne University) and Gertude Contemporary.
  • Not all public galleries have their own collections: The Australian Centre of Contemporary Art is a Kunsthalle (exhibition hall) and is unique in Australia because it doesn’t accumulate a collection of works of art. Instead ACCA’s artistic director commissions artists to make and present new works of contemporary art that will become part of a solo or group exhibition. Not every work of art at ACCA is commissioned, so it is necessary for ACCA curators to borrow works of art from national or international private or museum collections as appropriate to the focus of the exhibition. ACCA is funded by a range of government organizations but raises a significant part of its income from Philanthropic organizations such as the Besen Family and Balnaves Foundatation. The Kingston Arts Centre Gallery does not have a permanent collection either.

Commercial Galleries:

  • The role of commercial galleries is:
    • To show the work of artists
    • To develop a clientele of people interested in purchasing art
    • To provide a suitable exhibition space
    • To sell as many works as possible

  • Privately owned - Commercial galleries are ineligible for government funding; however, artists may apply to the government (Australia Council for the Arts, Arts Victoria) for money to support the development of their work.
  • Business venture - they can be small businesses operated by one person to medium sized operations employing curators, administration and support staff to manage the operation of the business, sometimes in multiple venues across the country.
  • Stable of artists – regular artists with work in storage – exhibit every 1 or 2 years
  • Exhibitions usually run for about 3 weeks.
  • Gallerist (director) always promoting the stable artists – negotiate with other galleries to show artists works
  • Have less information than Public galleries
  • Take a % of the sales (commission) to off set costs of framing, invites, ads etc. as well as profit (Without Pier charge 40%)
  • Artists have to meet the costs – openings, mail outs unless stipulated in the contract. Although the space is not for hire, Without Pier charges its artists $2,500 for a solo show - an extra $1,000 for a glossy room brochure.)
  • Promotions for the gallery and exhibitions are through art magazines such as Art Almanac, Australian Art Collector, and Art & Australia; the Age and Herald Sun newspapers; invitation cards; and the internet.
  • There is no need for environment controls as the gallery temperature and humidity are within a manageable range. Works also turnover at a high rate so there is no long term storage.
  • Examples of Commercial Galleries include Without Pier, Flinders Land Gallery, Tolarno Galleries, Anna Shwartz Gallery and Arc One.

Without Pier Gallery
Tolarno Gallery
Arc One

Artist run spaces

  • Run by artists for artists. Writers, co-ordinators etc are all artists.
  • Their role is to promote (and often sell) artist’s works. Web galleries often provide for communication between viewer and artist.
  • Artist Run Galleries are independent contemporary arts spaces committed to supporting and promoting contemporary art practices.
  • Artist Run Galleries present exhibitions that feature the work of emerging and established artists. Artists who wish to exhibit in Artist Run Galleries need to submit a proposal for a panel to consider.
  • Artist Runs Galleries assist and mentor emerging artists, curators and writers to refine their skills and practice.
  • Artist Run Galleries are managed by a group of people, usually artists, to present a program of exhibitions, events and workshops.
  • Artist Run Spaces are not-for-profit and seek support to keep exhibition programs running. Artists usually need to pay rent for the space they exhibit in. Volunteers often staff Artist Run Galleries. Artist Run Galleries are funded by donations and local and federal government grants.
  • Artist Run Galleries support the development of the arts community and encourage artistic experimentation and expression. Thy provide spaces for art practices that are commonly under represented in public or commercial galleries.
  • Examples of Artist run spaces include: Blindside and 45 Downstairs.

Blindside Gallery
45 Downstairs

Outcome hint:

To compare the role of public galleries, commercial galleries and other art spaces students need to compare their functions, not the artwork or the roles of the people who work in the space.

Compare the following aspects of the galleries as appropriate:

• Aims: focus, mission and vision
• Collections: themes, forms, documentation and access
• Conservation: temperature, lighting, storage and restorative practices
• Exhibitions: research, design, installation and presentation
• Promotion: advertising, marketing and media
• Staffing: Executive and Financial Management, Curatorial, Education, Marketing, Conservation and Invigilation.
Art Almanac

Download this pro-form and type your information into the document. You will need on for eah type of gallery.

If you need a copy of the Gallery information document click on the file: