When you ask to show your art at a venue, you need to be very clear about what you are offering. People don’t often say Yes to vague offers.
Think about what ties the work together. This is your curatorial thesis – your big idea. Writing it out, as you’ll see below, helps you find the clarity you need.
Before sitting down to write your exhibition proposal, ask the venue if they have a particular exhibition proposal format they prefer. If they do, follow their instructions. If they don’t have specific guidelines, you’ll have to compile an exhibition proposal for yourself.
The details of your proposal will vary depending on whether you’re proposing a show at a coffee shop, a pop-up space, or a nonprofit gallery. You will have to judge what is appropriate for your situation.
A lot of exhibition proposals came across my desk when I worked in art museums. Most were from exhibition touring companies, but some were from individual artists or art organizations.
In the museum, it was important that any exhibition we booked from outside our collection was (1) fundable, (2) educational, and (3) something that would bring people into our galleries.
Curators don’t always have ultimate control over what is exhibited. They must consult with educators (What programs could we line up with this exhibition? Would school groups come to see this?) … development directors (Could we get a grant for this? Is there a major donor that would partially fund this?) … the board of directors … and, of course, the director.
If you’re interested in showing your art in museums, I suggest knowing more about how they work.