Art Galleries vs Museums

Art galleries and museums are both places you can visit and see beautiful artwork. If you’re just a casual art viewer, you may mistakenly believe that art galleries and museums are the same. 

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 However, these two institutions do serve different purposes in the art world. In this article, we’ll explain some of the differences between art galleries and art museums and discuss where there are commonalities.

What Is an Art Gallery Vs. An Art Museum?

There is a growing grey area between an art gallery and an art museum. Many museums display artworks alongside other artifacts or displays, but they do not focus on showing and selling art. 

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Even when a museum is a specific art museum, such as the Tate Modern, the Metropolitan Museum, or the Louvre, it is not the same as an art gallery. 

Whether it is a physical location or an online art gallery, both galleries and museums will focus on art exhibitions. They both hold exhibitions in open spaces to display artworks to the public. These open spaces remove distractions so the art viewer or public can focus on enjoying and appreciating the aesthetic qualities of original art exhibits. But this is often where the similarities between art galleries and art museums end.

What Is the Difference Between a Museum and a Gallery?

Museums and art galleries use entirely different business models to fund their operating costs and make money. The simplified difference between an art gallery and a museum is that a museum is a place of entertainment; it’s an activity to visit a museum.

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However, an art gallery is a business that displays and sells goods. An art gallery, like Eden Gallery, aims to raise the profile of artists who exhibit in its spaces and ultimately sell artworks. 

Art Museums

The purpose of an art museum is to share a range of artworks with the broader public. Museums focus on education and awareness, so they will often receive public funding to help them make the arts more widely available to the general public. 

An art museum will usually have a permanent private collection of artworks, which they have purchased or been gifted, that the museum will have on display on a long-term basis. An art museum will also display artworks that are on loan, either from other museums or by individuals. These artworks are usually part of short-term exhibits that will change several times a year.

Museums usually display well-known artistic works or artworks with an important cultural significance. These are usually older or historical artworks. It is less common for museums to display artworks from contemporary working artists. 

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A museum curator will create exhibitions that highlight a particular era of painting or an art movement for art education purposes. The curator will pick and choose artworks to be included in these exhibits, and exhibits will usually consist of work by multiple artists. 

The curator will also provide commentary or educational resources about the display to help visitors learn and understand an exhibit’s purpose and cultural significance.

Some art museums, such as London’s Tate Modern or the National Portrait Museum, may focus on artwork in a certain style or from a specific period. However, many art museums will rotate their exhibits to show a variety of styles and eras. Artworks are often loaned to other museums around the world, which allows museums to rotate these exhibits and share famous artworks. 

Because they focus on education and entertainment, art museums are primarily funded through donations, bequeathments, public funding, and exhibition ticket sales. 

Art Galleries

The primary purpose of an art gallery is to display artwork that is for sale. Of course, you can still visit many art galleries to enjoy art without purchasing it. However, the artwork on display at a gallery is for sale, unlike artwork at a museum. The money a gallery earns from selling art is used to run the gallery business. 

Galleries can be large or small businesses and are found all around the world. Some smaller galleries may consist of a single exhibition room, while others are as large as an art museum. Unlike museums, a gallery is usually free to visit, although you may need a private appointment. 

Museums tend to be limited to large metropolitan areas, but there are thousands of galleries worldwide and online. These galleries may display well-known famous artists, but they could equally show work from contemporary emerging artists

An art gallery’s primary goal is to sell artwork and build relationships with art investors and collectors. There is a sales atmosphere within an art gallery business rather than an educational atmosphere. 

However, gallery curators and staff are usually knowledgeable art experts just like their museum counterparts. A gallery curator can help you choose artwork for your collection and guide you through the entire art purchasing process, from selecting and artwork to shipping and even displaying your art pieces. 

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Galleries often specialize in a particular segment of the art world, be it photography, sculpture, or mixed media art. They may be experts in selling artworks from a specific era or genre, for example, modernist artwork or antiquities. 

Both museums and galleries can hold solo or group exhibits, but a gallery will usually stick to a niche, while museums will often rotate the styles and genres they have on display. 

Where to Find Art Galleries and Museums

Art galleries and art museums can be found all over the world. However, some creative cities are a hub for art galleries and art museums with many potential destinations to view and buy art. In places like New York, Paris, or London, the line between gallery and museum may seem increasingly blurred because there are so many destinations where you can view art. 

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However, if you’re looking to buy or invest in art, remember that a gallery will provide the purchasing opportunities that a museum can’t offer. You can also explore online art and crypto art if you can’t physically visit galleries and art museums in person.

 

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