View Full Version : Hanging works of art

08-26-2010, 07:31 AM
Wondered if anyone can recommend a book or simple guide on hanging works of art. I understand most of the process but need some assistance with measurement guidelines and placement on wall. New job, new environment for me. Thanks!

T. Ashley McGrew
08-26-2010, 06:54 PM
I have to second this request. I have been doing this kind of thing for a lot of years now and have never seen such a thing yet (this is not to say it doesn't exist - just that I haven't seen a comprehensive version yet).
Why does every single person in the profession seem to have to re-invent the wheel and learn the hard way?

There is an straight forward solution here. Who wants to write something up? PACIN will publish it.
The most qualified individuals in the world are either registered on this website or on the PACIN listserve.

I've got to point something out here also. If we just start by defining the conversation and follow through by posting illustrations on the website we can take the results and turn them into an article for the main part of the website. This is why this site is set up that way it is.

I'll start out the discussion by saying that in my experience the most common method of hanging groups of framed works on walls is based on a "centerline" approach to establishing the height of the hang.
The height of the centerline (halfway between the top and bottom of the frame) varies from one insititution to another and one curator to the next.

Typically as well this height can influenced by the overall sizes of the objects. Smaller pieces are often placed closer to eye level (good luck on determining what the heck that is).

Since size matters this means that from gallery to gallery or even from one wall to another in the same gallery the centerline may vary slightly.

Other methods that most of used to 2D work is where either the tops of the frames were all at the same level, or where the bottoms of the frames were all placed at the same level.
My favorite method (really) is based on a "weighted" hang where the center line of each piece is related to the next but varies by its size but is effected by the work on either side. More subjective methods may take into consideration the individual artworks visual center based on graphic considerations like composition and value distribution.
As curiousities I have hung works where the horizon lines of landscapes or other elements within the compositions of different artworks were aligned.

There are details of traditional versus contemporary art work. Basics like spacing in corners versus doorways.
There are semiotic approaches and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Who is game?

Oh yeah but just to answer the orignal question. What is the best reference that you are aware of that already exists?

Paul Brewin
08-27-2010, 11:02 AM
Smaller works will generally be hung with a lower centerline than larger works. We typically hang smaller works at 58" centerline, and most other works at 60". Larger pieces will be at 62", and really tall ones (we have a 9' tall Stella painting) will be hung at how low the bottom can be off the floor without looking bad, usually 16" minimum off the floor. Our current curators will ask us to hang most pieces on a wall at a given centerline, leaving one or two key works to be judged by holding up at a couple of possible heights. Pieces that are hung on a short tab wall will be hung slightly off center of the wall (an extra inch or so out from the corner), otherwise it the space between it and the corner appears smaller than the space to the end of the wall. Stacked and grouped items present a myriad of other spacing decisions.

For arranging, we lean pieces against the wall to work out spacing between, then use a stick to transfer the position of the works to the wall at the chosen centerline. I've been meaning to design/build a stick with an adjustable feature for alternate centerline heights -- someday. In simple version, take a straight length of nominal 1x2 hardwood (like poplar), mark off a few key centerline heights, and attach (tape? screw?) a bullet level to side (or attach carefully on the face of the stick). Then carefully place the stick such that it touches one edge of the artwork, and the level shows plumb, then mark a sideways "T" to indicate the edge of the artwork along with the centerline.

You're right, Ashley, that an article or simple manual is in order!

01-22-2011, 01:58 AM
Wondered if anyone can recommend a book or simple guide on hanging works of art. I understand most of the process but need some assistance with measurement guidelines and placement on wall. New job, new environment for me. Thanks!

You can see a lot op guides over the internet. But i think, you can find it in any bookstores, just ask the crew.

02-27-2011, 07:45 PM
Maybe this can help:

Installing Exhibitions: A Practical Guide. Pete Smithson ISBN: 1408110164

T. Ashley McGrew
02-27-2011, 09:16 PM
Sounds very interesting. Have you read it?
Maybe the PACIN website is due to start posting actual book reviews!
I ordered a copy and will check it out.

02-28-2011, 01:28 AM
I found this book last week in the internet, but i didnīt check yet.

Is not easy sometimes to find info about art handling. I start to work as an art handler one year ago, with an internship. I became installation manager at the gallery, but i need to learn a lot, and gain experience. To find this site was great, letīs grow it!

02-28-2011, 01:38 AM
And for people living in New York, there is an art handlers training program here: http://www.bronxarts.org/bcadc_art_handlers.asp

T. Ashley McGrew
02-28-2011, 07:28 AM
There really hasn't been alot of good information in print the whole time I have been working - especially in the areas of packing, crating, installation and rigging. Folks have normally learned this kind of thing in a kind of informal apprenticeship approach.
Thanks for including the link to the program in the Bronx I have supervised and/or worked with several folks from there 2 of which were quite good.
Keep up the posts you are really making some great contributions here.

03-04-2011, 03:12 AM
Iīm really interested in the art handling course at Bronx Arts. Sounds Amazing.

I found this information in the Singapore Public Library website: