ArtSmarts is an educational series meant to provide tips and advice for artists. Each post covers a different topic with real world situations and input from industry experts. Do you have a topic you’d like to see covered? Email Kristina at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ArtSmarts suggestion!
How to Hang a Museum-Style Wall of Artwork
Artsmarts: How to Hang a Museum Style Wall
Part One: Materials
- 12” or larger level, preferably with measurements along the side
- Tape measure or yardstick
- Pencil *not pen* for wall measurements
- Pen is fine for taking notes
- Paper for sketching/taking notes
- Drill and/or hammer
- Nails and/or screws
Part Two: Measuring
- Measure the total width of the wall or section you want to hang art on
- Measure the width and height of each artwork you want to include
- Hold the wire from a center point as if hung on a nail. Measure from that point to top of frame
- Decide what height you want to set as the midpoint of the artworks. Gallery standards range from 58-62” from the floor
- This height is called the Eye Line. Ideally it’s set up so that your eyes are at the midpoint of each artwork
- If the plan is for artwork to go over furniture, like the back of a couch, hang higher
Part Three: Math
- Add up the widths of all artworks.
- Subtract that number from the total wall width.
- Divide by the number of spaces you’ll have between artworks
- I.e. if you have three pieces of art, that means four spaces
- This will give you the amount of space that should be between each frame
- Divide the height and width of each piece to find the exact center of the artwork.
- (Height/2) – wire distance = the point to put your nail/screw
- (It’s helpful to record all of these on a sheet of paper)
Part Four: Hanging
- Off to one side of your wall, measure from the floor up to your midpoint. If using a tape measure, be sure it is straight up and down, not bowed. Mark using pencil
- Using a level and tape measure if your level doesn’t have one, measure from the edge of the wall to the distance of your space between artworks
- TIP: I tend to work left to right, so I label this point “LE” = Left Edge
- From that point, measure in to find the center point of the artwork (half the width).
- Be sure to stay level with the Eye Line height
- Label this as CEL = Center Eye Line
- From center point, measure up half the height of the piece minus the distance from wire to frame.
- This is where you put your nail/screw
- Circle this mark
- Back down at CEL, measure out another ½ width of the piece and label “RE” – Right Edge. That is the edge of your piece
- From that point, measure your space-in-between distance, and repeat the process for all artworks.
- Be sure to always stay level with your Eye Line. It helps to check it throughout the process by measuring from floor to the CEL
- If using a drill, drive screw in far enough so that only 1-2 threads are showing outside of the drywall
- Hang artwork by draping wire over the screw/nail. Keep a grip on the bottom of the piece until you are sure it’s secure
- Level each piece
For large/heavy artwork:
- Repeat process of finding the nail point.
- Divide the width of the piece by thirds. From your center nail point, go out this far in either direction and put two additional nails
- Wind wire over left, under center, and over right nail. This will further secure it to the wall
Gallery vs Museum Style hanging
- Museum style: frames hung in a straight line, with the centers all at the same height and an equal distance away from each other. “Line” not “crowd”
- Salon Style: Artwork hung in a grouping with no discernible pattern. “Crowd”, not “line”