Exhibits — More Than Show and Tell
Presented by Jerrie Lee Parpart,
Exhibit Coordinator, Western Oregon University
Showcase Created for OLA-WLA 2008, Vancouver, WA

Designed to appeal to the interest of the Western Oregon University community, the Hamersly Library Exhibits Program has grown out of the simple love for art and culture by library staff into a well-established and well-regarded program, both on campus and in the library community.

After creating a showcase poster session for OLA-WLA 2008, I converted the key concepts helpful in creating or expanding an exhibit program. Feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments.


—How do you begin?  

—Rationale for exhibits
—Intended audience/s
—Mission Statement


Just the Basics: Starting an Exhibit Program

Programming: Where to Find Exhibits



—Media —Space Issues
What types of medium will you allow in your spaces?
Do you have limitations on sizes, weights, specific media?

—2 Dimensional
—Framed works

—3 Dimensional
—Free Hanging


Document the dimensions of all viable spaces so when you are talking with curators you know if you can acomodate the size of the exhibit. Include all the spaces you are willing to use for a mini exhibit as well as larger spaces.

—Corners by elevators
—Down a hallway
—Don’t discount a wall because of the surface
(i.e. items can be hung from the ceiling on a brick/wood wall)
—Create your own moveable walls!

—Open floor space
—Corners of hallways

—Open ceiling space
—Space above the stacks/desks
—Space above the lobby

—Avoid spaces with direct sunlight to protect the exhibit



  —Tools —Furnishings
Just the basics:
—hooks & nails
—tape measure
—scotch & painters tape

—more sophisticated:
— electric screwdriver
—spray glue
—glue gun
—foam core
—matte board
—paint & brushes

—A box with a Plexiglas top
—Check out e-Bay the local second hand store or watch garage sales
—Invert an old aquarium
—Put glass front on a old book case

—use for text panels or traveling exhibits
—Purchase in bulk from art supply store
(i.e. Daniel Smith, Art Media)
—Plexiglas mounted directly to the wall with mirror clips

Be creative!
—First and foremost:
—Safety to the patrons
—Safety to the installer
—Safety to the building – leave no permanent marks
—Review each exhibit proposal for special installation instructions

Some of our challenges:
—Items too big to go through the door
solution: remove the double door center post
—Items too heavy to carry
solution: use a dolly or a cart
—Items too heavy for the wall
solution: use heavy duty molly in a stud or hang from the ceiling
—Hanging in the space above the lobby
solution: use ‘U’ bolts and clothes line off the railing;
use a feather duster taped to an extension pole to push
the items out into the center
—Hanging cloth to a wall
solution: use velcro nailed to the wall and removable tape
on the cloth with the other side of the velcro



—On the cheap —Publicity
Be creative to keep your costs down
—Portable walls can be made with hollow core doors & ‘L’ brackets
—Captions can be printed on card stock
—Sculpture risers can be made from plywood
—Require exhibits to come “gallery-ready”
—Postcards & Posters
—Postcards can be printed for about $100 per 500 cards at a commercial printer or made relatively inexpensively by
photocopying on card stock paper, printing 4 per page
—Bulk mailing is $0.36 ea (i.e. $36.00 per 100)
—Media Outlets
—Radio, newspapers, email, blogs
Many newspapers have an online calendar of events

—Cases that lock or screw down
—Screw items to the wall instead of hang
—Install exhibit in a high traffic area or in sight of library staff
—Security cameras in remote exhibit location
—Some exhibits require insurance for loss/damage
—What is insured at your institution?
(art galleries on campus, city offices, etc.)
—Commercial insurers of art such as American Federation of the Arts


—Associated Events
Events that accompany an exhibit will augment the educational process
—Receptions: for the exhibitor or a sponsoring group
—Lectures or readings: on same or related topic as the exhibit or similar topic
—Demonstration of the methods used in the exhibit
—Other performances


—Exhibit Sources —Scheduling —Support or Sponsorship
—Traveling Exhibits
—Local Art Associations
—Local Museums
—Call for exhibits
—Word of mouth
Recommend scheduling six months minimum to one year in advance
especially for traveling exhibits
—Friends of the Library
—Local Associations
—Community Groups

Return to Main Exhibitions                Return to Library Home

This page was modified April 17, 2013 jlp