Art Gallery Interior Design


Art Gallery Interior Design

Many articles talk about important painters and sculptors and their works, while others try to teach us how to paint or sculpt. But this article will take you behind the scenes, analysing how the projects for galleries and museums are conceived, how the places where you can observe with your eyes paintings, sculptures and all other kinds of wonders take shape and form.

How Gallery Projects  Are Born

The destiny of architects and interior designer has always been linked in two ways with the evolution of art. Professionals in the world of architecture who today intend to present a truly complete high-level interior design project cannot fail to seek partnerships and synergies with art experts. Through them they can in fact complete the design of a living or working space with the correct choice of the most suitable works of art to enhance the spirit of the place.

The opportunity generated by the virtuous collaboration between architects and art gallery owners combines the professionalism and vision of space with the knowledge of experienced professionals in the selection and choice of works of art to be exhibited  in art galleries as well as living, working or site specific spaces.

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What does it mean to combine the selection of works of art with the design consultancy typical of the work of the architect or interior designer? Can a work of art be considered a piece of furniture like any other or is it something more?

For some time we might have had the impression that when we talk about art and design we refer, in a more or less conscious way, to pre-packaged solutions, which interpret the role of art in a reductive way. But if we do a search on the web, we find countless sources that speak easily about art (especially contemporary art), as if it were a piece of furniture, lightly suggesting design ideas and tricks for choosing the work with respect to the environment in question.

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On the other hand, we’re developing the conviction that art is not a simple piece of furniture, depending on the financial resources available. Art is much more: the energy that a work can give off, contextualised in the right space and enhanced in the correct form, is overwhelming. Art should be seen as an integral and structural part of the space, therefore it’s paramount when it comes to the interior design of an art gallery. This does not mean seeing the work as an immovable, static object.

Art is a language and it changes with us, during our life, as a result of our experiences and with the passage of time. And it is precisely for this reason that art differs greatly from an actual piece of furniture, such as a sofa, because it follows a ratio guided by emotion and not by a sense of functionality. A sofa may have a beautiful design, but a work of art excites the viewer. And that's a big difference. The work itself is an egregious element; for this reason it is important to arrive at the choice of how and where to place the work within the gallery, in a conscious and consistent way with one's aesthetic taste.

What are the methods or paths that can be taken to choose a given work of art to be placed in the project space, correctly interpreting the gallery owner’s taste?

There are two paths that normally determine the location of an artwork in a gallery. In the first, the art gallery owner is in love with a work and wants to take it in her/his collection. In that case, the space will be designed around the artwork to best enhance its nature and aesthetic strength. In the second, the gallery owner has not yet formed a bond with a particular work and is therefore looking for something that can interpret the reference environment, adding a touch of class and prestige to the entire exhibition space.

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These choices are always up to the art collector and to the emotions of those who are going to experience that space. For this reason, the collaboration with an expert art consultant, who possesses the sensitivity necessary to orient himself in the art market and knows how to trace the correct intersection between space, the client's emotionality and the right work, becomes an essential tool for professionals. who want to offer their customers a high-level and prestigious customisation service.

Clients always have their ideas, emotions, perspectives and often have their own project in mind from an architectural but also an emotional-aesthetic point of view. The task of the professional, whether he is an architect, an interior designer or an art expert, must therefore be to be able to exercise a listening and deductive technique to help the client achieve their vision in the best possible way.


What kind of professional and business opportunities can the activation of collaborations with contemporary art galleries generate in favour of architects and interior designer

Collaborating with an art gallery naturally offers various satisfactions, from those of the business to those of increasing the prestige of the studio in the eyes of the client. Without forgetting the privilege of entering a fascinating and exclusive world, of knowing the artists, their poetics, their studies and thus broadening their knowledge.

Art exhibitions hold a precarious yet steadfast role; as undefined yet self- sufficient entities, they take on multiple identities. Quoting a Trinity College student’s senior thesis: “Exhibitions are strategically located at the nexus where artists, their work, the arts institution, and many different publics intersect”, acting as the catalyst of art and ideas to the public; they represent a way of displaying and contextualising art that makes it relevant and accessible to contemporary audiences.

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So where do you start the interior design of an art gallery?

Before talking about the design process of art galleries, museum itineraries, or art displays, we want to start from the definition of “what a museum is” and try to illustrate our philosophy that guides our work.

ICOM (International Council Of Museums), an international association founded in 1948 to protect and enhance, through museums, the world cultural heritage, defined the museum on the occasion of the General Assembly in Seoul in 2004 as:  "A permanent, non-profit institution at the service of society and its development. The museum is open to the public and carries out research on the material and intangible testimonies of humanity and its environment; acquires them, preserves them, communicates them and, above all, exhibits them for the purpose of study, education and pleasure " 

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Designing a museum, first of all, is understanding what art is. When we are asked to develop an art gallery or museum interior design project, we first of all study and understand what the visit path must communicate.

The museum is a service to society, which displays art in order to educate and study, which is why the design of an art gallery display is a complex process; sensitivity, experience, study, engineering, architecture, communication, marketing and many other skills are needed to create sensitive, usable spaces capable of conveying a cultural message in an effective and engaging way. Museum are also the landmarks of many cities and are on top of the must see lists of almost every tourist! USA Art news’ article features some of the most iconic museum in some of the most visited cities in the world.

A good interior design of a gallery itinerary is based on the study of the user experience. Making people interact effectively and naturally with culture means communicating well.

Making the experience inside the gallery unique helps create a bond even after the visit, making the visitor a promoter. The gallery’s walls is no longer simply the place to exhibit works of art, but is the fusion of a whole series of functions and services.

Knowing how to correctly design the realisation of an art gallery, as well as of exhibition areas, is not at all simple, but if organised in the best way, it helps to make the most of the works on display. Let's see what are the best ways to design a gallery and how to best do it in detail.

Designing the interior of an art gallery: constitutive elements

To design a gallery itinerary, it’s first necessary to determine its constitutive elements, which will obviously vary depending on the size of the gallery itself and the audience that will visit it.


First of all, there must be a main visitor entrance complete with cloakroom and services, with a catalogs section that will allow checks on inflows. An entrance must be provided for employees and the entrance for disabled visitors must be considered


The next room must instead be a sorting filter room so that visitors can slightly disperse. Areas such as groups gathering areas and guided tours, early childhood entertainment, toilets, first aid should also be considered in the case of a larger art gallery.

The definition of visitor circulation criteria is essential. Circulation may in fact be compulsory, free or differentiated. The path must distinguish the entrance and exit and direct the visitor's gaze towards the artworks. We have the following types of routes:

•   linear - beginning-center-end

•   loop - principle-center-principle

•   satellites - central core

•   labyrinth - variations of the rooms

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Elements of the Museum Itinerary 

Exhibition Halls

•   free plan rooms - therefore limited only by mobile barriers

•   individual rooms - which can be accessed from external transit corridors

•   rooms with free or fixed circuit.


The display cases can be fixed or mobile and modular and still isolated, leaning against the gallery’s wall or recessed. 


Particular attention should also be paid to the display furniture and the lighting of the rooms. The favourite is from above and widespread.

Rooms that are poorly lit or badly conceived, may in fact not give the right value to the artworks on display. Fixed or mobile showcases, built into the wall or displayed in various points of the room can be used to achieve the best results.

The height of the artworks must be such as to allow the visitor to observe the exhibits without difficulty. Especially if, for example, there is a series of dioramas on display, which represent otherwise unrepeatable scenes, it’s necessary to enable the user to be able to see everything, even the smallest objects.

As regards lighting, it should be remembered that the intensity of illumination of an object is directly proportional to the intensity of the light source. The illumination intensity of the object varies according to the angle taken by the light beam.

The lighting can be either from above, with ceiling glass windows, with lanterns, with gratings and skylights, or with natural lateral lighting, traditional, which has the drawback of casting the visitor's shadow onto the painting and allowing little fluency in the general layout of the room. Indirect natural, mixed natural and artificial (with balanced light correction) or artificial lighting are also used.