Professional Guidelines Exhibition Contract

Exhibition Contract

  This document addresses noncommercial exhibitions where the main intent is the exhibition of artwork for the purposes of education, information or public consideration (and not the retail purchase of artwork.) Included is an overview detailing and explaining each clause of the contract and the multiple options offered.

PDF Exhibition Contract
Word Exhibition Contract

Artists are presented throughout their careers with a wide variety of exhibition opportunities. While many exhibition opportunities (usually at retail/commercial galleries) have as their primary focus the sale of consigned work, this document addresses the issues involved with exhibitions whose main intent is not the sale of work but rather the showcasing of artwork for primarily non-commercial purposes to educate, inform or entertain the public.

Typical non-commercial exhibition sponsors may include guilds, artist organizations, non-profits and alternative exhibition venues. (Established museums will usually have their own exhibition contract, although this document may still offer some insights.)

The Professional Guidelines Exhibition Contract (for non-commercial exhibitions) is designed to offer artists and non-profit Exhibition Sponsors the means to clearly define each party’s responsibilities and to foster open communication. (In situations where work will be exhibited by a retail/commercial gallery, refer to the Consignment Contract in the Professional Guidelines.)

Retail sales in this type of exhibition environment are usually a low priority. The Exhibition Sponsor is not expecting to represent the artist over an extended period of time in the same way as a gallery. Instead, the Exhibition Sponsor borrows work from artists (or a collector) for a limited period of time, focusing on work that contributes to the theme or premise of the show. Prices are not usually posted on the wall, although a price list may be available at the desk or upon request. (The viewing audience may not even realize that the work might be for sale). In many cases, if a potential Collector is interested in the work, they are told to contact either the artist or the artist’s gallery representative directly to pursue a purchase.

Although sales are not considered a priority, the artist should value these exhibitions as important professional opportunities. Ideally, such exhibitions produce quality documentation of the artwork, professional reviews and provide broad exposure to the community.

When the artwork is traveling as an entire show from one exhibition location to another exhibition location (without returning to the artist’ studio or home), this type of exhibition is referred to as a “traveling show.”  The contractual issues for all venues should be covered under one contract that covers every situation from when the artwork leaves the artist’s studio until it is returned to the artist’s studio, regardless of the number of venues.

If an Exhibition Sponsor requests the Artist to negotiate separate contracts with each exhibition venue, it is worth evaluating whether the exhibition proposal is worthy. Negotiating a separate contract with each venue is impractical and ill advised for both the Artist and the Exhibition Sponsor.

Use the Condition Report  in the Professional Guidelines to document the condition of the art or craft at every venue.

The Condition Report is a partner to the Exhibition Contract. It can be downloaded as a PDF and printed for your convenience. Use this form to note in detail the condition of an artwork (including wear, scratches, tears, blemishes, etc.) on the day it is shipped to an exhibition venue.

PDF Condition Report form

ASK Harriete offers more information about exhibition contracts

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Harriete Estel Berman by Professional Guidelines for the Arts and Craft Community is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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