A scale model helps you decide what artwork to include in your upcoming exhibition.
It’s no small feat, but building a model can also help you conquer the unknown and alleviate any anxieties.
Measure the gallery space. It doesn’t have to be exact, but it should be close. Note door openings, wainscoting, windows, columns, and other elements that could intrude upon your installation.
Decide on your scale. One inch=1 foot is probably the most common. If you make larger work, you are more flexible than if you make smaller work. For instance, if you use the 1″=12″ (1″=1′) scale and your work is mostly under 12″ wide, you’re going to have very tiny reproductions that might not be helpful at all. If you make smaller work across the board, you might try 1”=1/2’ for your scale. Whatever you choose, everything for your model will adhere to this scale.
Build your gallery out of cardboard, mat board or foam core. Paint the walls the authentic color. Leave the top open so you can look down in it and move the works around.
Make a scale reproduction – true to color – of each piece of your artwork you hope to install. This may take a bit of doing for non-mathematicians, but you’ll be fine if you have the ratio right. In the example above, the ratio would be 1 to 12 (since there are 12 inches in every foot). So, if you had an artwork that measured 20 inches across, you would divide 20 by 12 to get 1.67″ and that’s how wide your miniature would be.
Add pedestals or special displays if you have three-dimensional work. You might even consider investing some time in making miniature clay models.
Put small pieces of rolled masking tape (or removable adhesive) on the back of each image or under each miniature and start playing curator.
Washington’s National Gallery of Art shows how this is done.