HOW TO CREATE A GALLERY FOR DISPLAYING KIDS’ ARTWORK
Everyone with little artists at home knows that those masterpieces can pile up fast. If that’s the case in your household, why not Create A Family Art Gallery? It may sound like an ambitious project, but you can make it easy for yourself by starting with these 5 simple questions.
Where Should I Set Up A Gallery in My Home?
The first step to creating your own gallery is finding the perfect location. If possible, try to put the gallery in a room you use often so you and your kids can see the art every day. Putting it in an office can also be nice, but the kids won’t feel as appreciated if they aren’t reminded of it often. If you’ve put a lot of effort into the interior design of your home, try to keep the aesthetic of your rooms cohesive and create the gallery in a more informal room. A playroom, family room or den, or kitchen eating area are all spaces that can benefit from a touch of whimsy.
Pull out the pieces you know you want to display before you start to get an idea of how much space you’ll need for the gallery. If you don’t have the space to devote a whole wall to creating a family art gallery, a display can stretch horizontally around a room. Furniture often doesn’t reach to the ceiling, so try lining the upper walls with picture frames to create a fun border. And if you’re really pressed for space, the fridge is still a classic location for artwork if you dress it up a little! Buy magnetic picture frames, or make your own by taking the glass and backing out of picture frames and attaching magnets to the back. Then, place these frames around drawings your kids have created. These are easy to swap out, and it’s guaranteed that you’ll get to look at them every day. (If you choose the DIY method on these picture frames, test them before setting up your display. depending on how heavy they are, the frames may need more magnets, or stronger magnets. And to be safe, the drawings might need their own magnets, too!)
What Kids’ Art Should I Display?
Now that you’ve found the perfect location for your gallery, take inventory of the projects that your kids have made. Drawings and paintings are the easiest to display and often will make up the majority of your children’s art. But if they develop an interest in origami or pottery, be sure to include some of these in the gallery, too. Pay attention to what art your kids are most excited to show you and try to include those in your gallery. This can make the difference between the gallery being your project and the gallery being a family project.
If you’re having trouble deciding on what pieces to display, try picking ones with a similar color palette. It’s alright if you can’t fit everything in your gallery; real art galleries often cycle through paintings that they have in storage and swap them out with ones that have been on display for a while, and you can, too.
Interspersing art projects throughout the room can make the display feel more like a natural part of the décor.
Rather than put the frames directly on a wall, you can display them on a series of floating shelves if you have the space. This also provides a display option for ceramics or sculptures your children may have made. If your children have any hanging decorations, you can put hooks on the lowest set of shelves and display them there. You can also display larger pieces on side tables near the gallery. Interspersing art projects throughout the room can make the display feel more like a natural part of the décor. If things your children make have utility, such as a vase from a ceramics class or a necklace they’ve made at camp, feel free to include these here, but nothing will make them happier than you actually using an item the way it was intended.
How Should I Frame My Kids’ Art?
Now that you have a better idea of what you’ll be displaying, it’s time to choose a gallery set up that works for you. Ideally, your gallery should complement the room it’s hanging in and match the other pieces being displayed. Buying the same kind of frame in different sizes is an easy way to make things look cohesive, but for a more fun and artsy look, use different styles of frames in the same color. White or black frames go with pretty much anything, but you can also hand-paint the picture frames a color that complements the furniture in that room. The kids can help, too, and make the frames as much a part of the display as the art itself.
Kids’ art often isn’t uniform in shape. Rather than stress about it not fitting perfectly in a frame, you should embrace that uniqueness with how you display it. When in doubt, go bigger on the frames. Unless there are pieces you know you want to keep on display permanently, don’t worry about matching the frame size perfectly to the drawing. Bigger frames provide more options; you can always put a couple small pieces in a big frame, but you can’t put a big piece in a small frame. Try taking out the glass and backing from a frame, and cut a piece of cork board to fill the empty space. Then, you can pin up art within the frame as if it were a bulletin board while keeping the structured look that a frame provides. This makes it easy to swap works out as well. You don’t even have to take the frame off the wall, just take the pins out and you’re ready to go. Another aesthetically pleasing look could be to frame items in a floating glass frame. This way, you won’t have to worry about finding a frame to house those works of art that are odd sizes or cute out into a shape.
What About Frameless Displays?
Rather than hang up frames, try hanging up a series of clipboards lengthwise on the wall. Art can easily be stuck underneath the clamp and taken out again. The clipboards can be painted to match your room, but nicer-looking wooden clipboards can be found online if you want to emulate a frame. In a more informal setting like a playroom, you can consider using frame tape (tape printed with a frame pattern that gives the illusion of a frame from farther away). This can be bought online. To hang up the artwork, you can use push pins or mounting putty. Frame tape is convenient because it lets you pick whatever size is best for your child’s art, and it can easily be taken off the wall when you want to swap out the pieces on display.
If you’re going for a more DIY look, you can set up a clothing line-esque display against the wall with a couple lengths of wire between some hook eye screws. You can use the curtain wire and hooks set from IKEA for this. Then, simply use clothespins to attach the art to the wire. This makes it easy to swap drawings out. You can also use this display vertically, going down the wall to the floor like a column. This can be nice as it puts some of the art at eye level for kids, but be careful if you live in a household with pets! For a similar but more stable look, you can glue clothespins to a yardstick or length of wood, attach the yardstick to the wall with velcro or command strips, and hang the art from that.
When Should I Swap Pieces Out in the Gallery?
Now that you’ve finished your gallery, you may be wondering when it’s time to cycle through pieces, and if it’s even worth the extra work to do so. Swapping pieces out isn’t necessary, but new decorations always add some excitement to a room. Kids often do crafts that relate to certain holidays or seasons, like jack o’lanterns, hand turkeys, snowmen or Valentine’s Day hearts. You can change these pieces out seasonally, and bring back old favorites when the holiday comes around again.
Swap pieces out naturally as kids bring pieces home from school or do crafts on their own. But, feel free to keep up old pieces! It’s encouraging for a kid to look at their old art and see how they’ve improved over time, and also fun for you as a parent to see how they’ve grown.
It’s important to keep every piece up for at least a few weeks so that your kids feel their art has got the appreciation they deserved. If you have more than one child, make sure they’re all getting equal space on the wall. If your children are competitive, consider sectioning off the wall by child, or assigning each kid certain frames to guarantee equality. As a cute detail, their frames can have their first initial or name on it so that visitors can tell right away whose art is whose.
Creating a Family Art Gallery of your child’s creations adds a personal touch to your home that’s sure to be a great conversation starter when guests visit. But more importantly, seeing their art on display can be encouraging for young artists, as it makes them feel loved and inspires them to keep creating. For more home topics and ideas like Organizing Your Home’s Command Center and 5 Projects to Do with Dried Flowers, see our Food & Home section. ~
is a graduate from UVA with a Media Studies degree and has a love for all things creative. The eldest of 13 cousins, she is always on the lookout for fun ways to keep little ones (and not-so-little ones!) entertained.
Feature image by ANDREA HUBBELL. Andrea creates timeless, evocative lifestyle images. She specializes in interior and culinary photography, drawing on her background and education in architectural design to focus on form, space, composition and color in each image she creates. She is best known as co-creator of the popular Our Local Commons book series, highlighting the best of Charlottesville’s farm-to-table movement. Her work can be also seen in our Charlottesville Wine & Country Weddings publication among many others.
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