Do’s and Don’ts of Art Gallery Etiquette

Avoid Offending Art Galleries and Artists by Following these Tips

The passionate and innovative nature of contemporary wall art may encourage spectators to express their thoughts and ideologies in radical, vocal ways. Unfortunately, some art viewers have mistakenly taken the liberty to express their non-conformist ways during art exhibitions and art gallery tours– leaving guests and artists perturbed and offended.

As freeing as contemporary art is to the “inner-maverick,” it’s very important to adhere to art gallery etiquette so you won’t disturb the experience of other attenders. Avoid these gallery “don’ts” next time you visit an art exhibit whether it be a formal show exhibiting Southwest Wall Art or an informal setting exhibiting modern pop art.


  • Touch the art or place your coat or jacket over a pedestal or table that is displaying a piece of art.
  • Walk straight past art displays to the food and drinks that may be provided for those viewing the art, if you do need a snack be polite and show restraint with provided food and drink.
  • Generically and vaguely compliment artists on their work. Artists hear “your art work is great” all day, so try and be specific so they know you aren’t just trying to be polite. If for example the artist has a contemporary American Indian art piece displayed, you may want to compliment them on their ability to represent ethnocentric concepts through the deliberate combinations of colors and specific figuration, of course you’ll want to know what you’re talking about.
  • Monopolize the artist’s time, especially if you have no intention of buying. Artists are hoping to sell their works in most cases, and they want to spend time speaking with those genuinely interested in investing in their work.
  • Arrive late. If you know the artist personally it’s best to show up at the beginning when the artist most needs support. A familiar face may help them relax.
  • Act like it’s a social event and ramble on about subjects that aren’t art related. Remember you are at an art exhibit and that is the main attraction.
  • Introduce yourself to the gallery owner and talk to them for as long as you can with no intention of buying anything.
  • Try to steal the show by selling your own product or service to an artist while at their exhibit.
  • Interrupt conversations between gallery owner or artists and their potential patrons.
  • Place a piece of artwork on hold for a few weeks and then decide not to buy it.
  • Tell the gallery owner that you don’t like any of the art pieces on display. 
  • Stand deliberately in front of one piece for a long time without checking to see whether you are blocking someone else’s view.
  • Wander into the gallery’s back room or storage area to look through artwork without permission.
  • Bring your pets.
  • Promote another nearby gallery as being better than the one you are visiting.
  • Bring food and drinks around art and galleries, and certainly don’t allow your children to eat and drink around the art.
  • Block access by pausing for a discussion in a hallway or in front of a piece of art that others are hoping to view. Make sure you are not in the way of interested viewers.

This may seem like a long list, but you’d be surprised at the amount of people who negatively impact other peoples’ enjoyment of an event by being inconsiderate or ignorant of gallery etiquette. If you avoid these don’ts, you won’t have to worry about being an embarrassment or nuisance to your fellow visitors.

Get a Taste of The Contemporary Wall Art John Nieto Has to Offer Online!

To view an online art gallery of contemporary wall art, southwest artwork, or American Indian artwork, visit Artist John Nieto’s website today. Nieto Fine Art can be contacted at (415) 347-8173 or through our online contact form.