Art Exhibition Etiquette
Galerie Michael • Dec 08, 2017
THE CODE OF SOPHISTICATION AT ART EXHIBITIONS
Not many of us will have the opportunity to enjoy an art gallery opening. Most understand that there is a code of ethics and etiquette where certain events are concerned, but for some, this isn’t known, or well-understood. If you’re headed to an art gallery opening, and have never attended one before, there are things that you can do to make sure that you don’t embarrass yourself, or cause a distraction. Some behaviors, however accidental, are considered quite rude, and may result in your being removed from the event. You don’t want this, so make sure you follow some common guidelines so that you and everyone present will be able to enjoy themselves.
CHECK TO SEE IF THE INVITATION GIVES THE DRESS CODE
It is safe to say that no gallery opening is a jeans-and-t-shirt event, but the degree of dressiness maybe specified on the invitation. ‘Black tie’ usually means tuxedos for men, and formal gowns for women. ‘Black tie optional’ means dark suits and ties for men, and long dresses for women. Cocktail parties usually mean slacks and button downs for men, and little black dresses or bright party dresses for women. If the invite doesn’t specify the dress code, it is worth your time to call ahead to ask the gallery themselves.
Even when you know that speeches are coming before you have a chance to see the work, it is courteous to be there from the start. The speeches and greetings are as much a part of the exhibition as the artist’s work. This will also give you the opportunity to see the gallery owner, and to make sure that you know who the artist is.
AVOID GETTING DRUNK
Getting drunk at parties, in bars, clubs, vineyards, and breweries is perfectly acceptable. Drinking heavily at gallery openings is frowned upon, to say the least. Many people become disorderly and disruptive when drunk, and this can impact the experience of other that are at the event to enjoy the art and to support the artist. Be considerate of those around you, and make sure to temper your drinking, and tip the bartender.
TAKE YOUR TIME LOOKING, BUT BE MINDFUL OF THE SPACE
Some galleries are large, some galleries are small, but no gallery has enough room for everyone to crowd around one piece. Be cognizant of yourself and the space that you’re taking while examining a piece of art. Standing in the middle of a portrait for longer than a few minutes is rude because it doesn’t take into consideration others that are interested in seeing the piece that has fascinated you.
SPEAK JUST BELOW A NORMAL VOICE
Think of art galleries as on par with museums and libraries: in neither situation is it appropriate to talk loudly, be it on your cell phone, or with the people around you. Speaking in a lower tone in an art gallery is respectful of the artist, but also of the people who want to focus on the art, interpreting and understanding it.