Ask the Experts: “How Should I Contact Galleries and Museums for Shows?”

This month’s letter comes from a reader with a question about how to contact galleries and museums for exhibition opportunities.

Dear Kat, 

I've been told one way to approach galleries and museums is to send out a one-page PDF with some images and text, then maybe follow up with a hard copy.

What do you think? Do you agree on this approach? 

Many thanks,
Seeking Exhibitions


Dear Seeking,

It's hard to measure the effectiveness of cold-contacting galleries and museums. It is a common approach, but seldom results in an exhibition. Curators weigh many factors when selecting artists to exhibit, beyond their personal response to the work. Some of these factors include the technical quality of the image and print, which is difficult to judge from online materials; the presentation of the photographs, the salability (for commercial galleries), and whether or not the artist is pleasant to work with.

Much like applying for a job, you can send resumes cold, but are far more likely to find success if you build on your network. I recommend focusing your efforts on magazines, blogs, and so forth that feature your work. When curating an exhibition, I often find artists through these publications. There is no formula that will guarantee a show or representation, it is usually a series of small steps that lead to opportunities. 

Sincerely,
Kat Kiernan, Director, Panopticon Gallery

  Writing Machine ,  Jefferson Hayman

Writing Machine, Jefferson Hayman

Need some advice? Contact info@donttakepictures.com with “Ask the Experts” in the subject line. Questions about exhibiting, publishing, promoting, collecting, curating, or other industry questions are welcome. If our editors aren’t the right people to answer your question, we will reach out to an expert we trust.