Art Show Ideas

Here are some tips, from 11 years of organizing and presenting a HUGE arts show.

1. Have students sign their names to a label and affix to the projects. I find that if the students write directly on to the project, they write very large. This allows them to re-do it if they aren't satisfied.

2. Have a comment box with index cards available so parents can leave positive messages for the artists.

3. Provide a few easy make-and-take art/craft activites for the younger students. They don't have to be elaborate- kids love making "stuff"!

4. Hang a project description beside each display so that parents can better understand the projects.

5. Take the time to mount the kids' projects on to a railroad board or nice background paper so they will have one nicely matted project for the year.

6. I start at the beginning of the year and save at least 4 pieces of artwork from each project we do. I keep track of which project I have kept for each student in my gradebook.

7. Hang at least one project for each student. I know- huge task! But, I was in a school where I overheard the following:

Parent: "Where is your artwork?"
Student: "Mine isn't good enough to hang."

Not happening in my school!

8. I put a sticker and a label on the back of each project I hang in the show. The label says "Artist of the Week!" with the date. Kids love stickers and they love being chosen "Artist of the Week".

9. Send a slip of paper home a few days before the art show to remind students and parents which projects they have displayed. I have found that I only get asked a handful of times where the kids' projects are since I have started doing this.

10. Announce that student artwork may be taken home at the end of the night and you will have far less to clean up. This year, I only had to remove 1/3 of the art that was displayed.

Ok, I know many of you hold annual art shows, so share all of your great ideas!


  1. Wow there are some very good tips there. I include at least 4 pieces per student in my art shows. I have around 400 students and so my art show is about 1600 pieces mounted onto coloured card etc , velcro or blu tac to display or hung over long light fittings. AS many parents cant make it on the main night my display stays up for two days at least. The other thing I do is to get some senior students to sell the student artwork to the students parents / relatives and place a red dot on all art sold. ( Art work sells for $1.00 or two dollars>). ALl proceeds have gone back into the art department. They just love the fact that they are like real artists. My challenge this year is to attract parents as they are reluctant to come despite the fantastic work my students create.They love to be entertained and I have had to compete with the school plays etc. This year is visual arts turn. We are now on a rotation with drama , music and visual arts. I would be happy to get any ideas on how to get the parents in.!!
    Cheryl H Perth Australia

    1. This year I wrote a general letter to all parents who had students with work on display. I don't have every student in the high school, but hang something from almost every student I do have. I sent the letters home with the students this year and probably half of them didn't get to the parent. Next year I plan on sending home the letters by mail and sending them home 2 week prior instead of the week prior. MAYBE that will get them in.

  2. I'm about to set my first art show, thank you so much :)

  3. Great ideas! Thank you! What were the small art projects you did during the art show w/families? I have an art show coming up in a few weeks and i am trying to deside what art projects to have out for families to do. I would love some more ideas! :)

  4. Some of the hands-on "make & take" projects I have done include paper mosaic masks, crayon resist Psanky eggs, sand painting, anything with texture plates & crayons (still life, creatures, etc), oil pastel on overhead film, paper lizards, pointillism using cotton swabs, watercolor on a black Sharpie drawn design, junk birds made from tons of recycled things...

    That is all I can think of right now, but I will post more as they come to me. The challenge is making the projects easy and able to be taken home immediately.

  5. I really love that you tell them they can take it home with them at the end. What a great way to minimize the end work after matting all those pieces!


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