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Essay on A Visit to An Art Exhibition

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How to Write an Art Exhibition Review

Last Updated: December 29, 2023 Approved

How to Draft Your Review

How to revise your review, best practices for viewing an art exhibit, expert q&a.

This article was co-authored by Kelly Medford and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Kelly Medford is an American painter based in Rome, Italy. She studied classical painting, drawing and printmaking both in the U.S. and in Italy. She works primarily en plein air on the streets of Rome, and also travels for private international collectors on commission. She founded Sketching Rome Tours in 2012 where she teaches sketchbook journaling to visitors of Rome. Kelly is a graduate of the Florence Academy of Art. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 95% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 294,820 times.

Art exhibition reviews provide a description and critical analysis of an art exhibit. This helps visitors know what to expect from the exhibit and gives feedback to the artist. To write an effective art exhibition review, visit the exhibit, take detailed notes, and talk to the artist, a docent, or a curator, if possible. Then, discuss your observations and opinions in your review and revise your work before finalizing it.

Things You Should Know

  • Provide the who, what, where, when, and why of the exhibit in your introduction to paint a clear picture for the reader.
  • Give a detailed description of the exhibit, including how each piece is displayed, so readers can know what to expect.
  • Take a critical look at the exhibit and offer your opinions on the exhibit. Mention if it was successful in portraying its core themes and ideas.

Step 1 Answer the who, what, where, when, and why.

  • Write, “Agatha Tompkin’s The Friends You Have opened at the Contemporary Art Center on Friday, August 23rd and runs through November 1st. Her watercolors and mixed media works explore modern relationships and how communities differ.”

Step 2 Describe the exhibit so visitors know what to expect from it.

  • You might say, “Tompkin’s watercolors are grouped on two adjacent walls in simple 11 by 14 in (28 by 36 cm) black frames. Hanging on the opposite walls, her mixed-media work consists of 5 by 7 ft (1.5 by 2.1 m) canvases that are arranged in a line. Visitors can walk alongside the artwork for a visual experience.”

Tip: While many artworks are meant to be viewed, there are other ways to interact with art. Sometimes art is meant to be listened to, and you may be immersed in an installation. Think about how you’re interacting with the artwork in this exhibit.

Step 3 Present a critical analysis of the exhibit and its thesis.

  • Explain the artist’s stated thesis and how well they expressed it in their exhibit.
  • Identify parts of the exhibit that worked well. If there were works that didn’t support the main idea, explain how the artist could have better incorporated them.
  • Consider how this exhibit relates to art history as a whole. Where would it fit in? How does this art compare to existing works? How does it express common themes?

Step 4 Discuss the challenges the curator may have faced during installation.

  • For instance, a curator may not face any unique challenges while hanging framed oil paintings on a wall. However, they might struggle with installing a sculpture that hangs from the ceiling or an installation that has moving parts.
  • You might write, “While the framed watercolors were easy to hang on the exhibit walls, the curators struggled to install the single mixed-media sculpture that Tompkins created from found objects. The sculpture is designed to look like it’s floating between the ceiling and the floor, so it must be hung using thin wires.”

Step 1 Follow the formatting instructions for your assignment.

  • If this is for class, your instructor likely told you which style guide to use. Format your paper and any citations that you use according to the rules for that style guide.

Step 2 Ask a fellow art student or critic to give you feedback on your work.

  • Don’t ask someone who’s unfamiliar with art exhibition reviews to critique your paper because they may unintentionally give you bad advice.

Step 3 Revise your review if changes are necessary.

  • Reading your review aloud will help you spot areas that don’t flow well. Re-write these sentences to make them better.

Step 4 Proofread your review before submitting it.

  • Try to get someone else to proofread it for you because it’s hard to spot your own errors.

Step 1 Read your assignment sheet before reviewing the exhibit for a class.

  • If you have any questions, ask your instructor so that you don’t accidentally make an error on your assignment.

Step 2 Walk through the exhibit gallery to make observations about the art.

  • Make several passes through the exhibit so you can make new observations and connections between the works.
  • Look at the art from different angles and distances. While it’s important to examine each piece closely, you also want to take in the entire exhibit as a whole to see how the artist evoked their theme.

Step 3 Take notes on the description, form, content, and your impressions.

  • Document how the artist created each image, such as how they used lines, shapes, colors, shading, textures, patterns, and light. You’ll use this information to develop your discussion on form.

Ask yourself questions like:

Why are the works of art ordered or arranged this way?

Does a particular work stand out from the rest?

Is there a theme or a subtext to the exhibition?

Does the theme or thesis become obvious as I walk through the space?

How is this exhibition different from others I've seen?

Step 4 Identify the main idea and important themes of the exhibit.

  • Ask yourself questions like the following: Based on what I see, what do I think the artist is trying to say? What does the exhibit make me think about? How do I feel?

Step 5 Talk to a docent or curator to learn more about the exhibit.

  • Ask a docent questions like, “What was the artist hoping to achieve in this exhibit?” “What inspired the artist to create these works?” and “What are the core pieces of this exhibit?”
  • Ask a curator questions like, “Why did you arrange the artwork like this?” “What challenges did you face while installing the exhibit?” and “What instructions did the artist give for hanging their work?”

Step 6 Notice how others are reacting to the art for the spectator response.

  • For instance, do you notice visitors avoiding a certain piece? Are they drawn to some pieces more than others? Which pieces are generating conversation? What types of comments do you overhear?
  • If you’re planning to publish your review, ask fellow visitors to give you quotes that you can use for your review. Get their name so you can credit them.

Step 7 Talk to the artist if they’re present at the exhibit.

  • Wait until after you view the exhibit so that your initial impressions aren’t influenced by the artist.

Tip: Read the artist statement for more insight into what inspired the exhibit.

Step 8 Read other reviews on the exhibition to find out what critics are saying.

  • Your review should focus on your own ideas, not on what other people said.

Kelly Medford

  • Read art exhibition reviews written by professional critics to help you understand the typical format. [15] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Always have materials ready for taking notes or recording conversations. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Don't overuse superlatives. If you fall into the trap of calling every artwork you see "breathtaking," "magnificent" or "flawless," you'll soon come off as an uninformed critic. Likewise, calling everything you dislike "appalling," "disgusting," or "terrible" will undermine your ideas. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

art exhibition experience essay

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  • ↑ https://www.ocadu.ca/Assets/content/teaching-learning/WLC/Online+Resources/Writing+Art+Reviews.pdf
  • ↑ https://ualr.edu/art/art-history-resources/papers-and-projects/guidelines-for-analysis-of-art/
  • ↑ http://arthistoryteachingresources.org/2017/09/museums-writing-exhibition-reviews/
  • ↑ https://www.uwgb.edu/malloyk/art_criticism_and_formal_analysi.htm
  • ↑ http://www.csus.edu/indiv/o/obriene/art112/Readings/Writing_a_Review_of_an_Exhibition.pdf

About This Article

Kelly Medford

To write an art exhibition review, start with an introductory paragraph that introduces a thesis about the exhibit. Then, break the body of your review up into individual sections that each focus on specific artwork in the exhibition. In each section, make sure you include descriptions of the art, your analysis and interpretation of the artwork, a consideration of the space it was displayed in, and finally your evaluation. To conclude your review, write a conclusion that ties together your main points and summarizes your review. To learn how to analyze and critique an art exhibit, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Home — Essay Samples — Arts & Culture — Museum — My Experience At The Houston Museum of Art

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My Experience at The Houston Museum of Art

  • Categories: Museum Personal Experience

About this sample

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Words: 1288 |

Published: Nov 5, 2020

Words: 1288 | Pages: 3 | 7 min read

Table of contents

Introduction, my reflection on a visit to a museum.

  • Houston Museum of Fine Arts. (n.d.). Home. https://www.mfah.org/
  • Severin Roesen (1815-1872). (n.d.). In Encyclopedia of Still Life Painters. Retrieved October 6, 2023, from https://www.fineart-china.com/artist/Severin%20Roesen.html
  • Bottcher, Christian Edward. (n.d.). In Grove Art Online. Retrieved October 6, 2023, from https://www.oxfordartonline.com/groveart/view/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.001.0001/oao-9781884446054-e-7000002419
  • Urry, J. (2013). The Tourist Gaze 3.0. SAGE Publications.
  • Visit Houston. (n.d.). Explore Houston. https://www.visithoustontexas.com/things-to-do/museums/museum-district/

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art exhibition experience essay

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