Types of galleries
The Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest, Willem van Haecht, 1628. A private picture gallery as an early precursor of the modern museum.
The term is used for both public galleries, which are non-profit or publicly owned museums that display selected collections of art. On the other hand private galleries refers to the commercial enterprises for the sale of art. However, both types of gallery may host traveling exhibits or temporary exhibitions including art borrowed from elsewhere.
In broad terms, in North American usage the word gallery alone often implies a private gallery, while a public gallery is more likely to be described as an art museum. In British and Commonwealth usage, the word gallery alone implies a public gallery, while a private or commercial gallery will be distinguished using those terms, and the word museum alone is generally understood to refer to institutions holding collections of historic, archaeological or scientific artefacts, rather than of fine art.
Galleries in museums
The rooms in museums where art is displayed for the public are often referred to as galleries as well, with a room dedicated to Ancient Egyptian art often being called the Egyptian Gallery, for example.
Contemporary art gallery
Main article: Contemporary art gallery
The term contemporary art gallery refers usually to a privately owned for-profit commercial gallery. These galleries are often found clustered together in large urban centers. Smaller cities are usually home to at least one gallery, but they may also be found in towns or villages, and remote areas where artists congregate, e.g. the Taos art colony and St Ives, Cornwall.
Contemporary art galleries are usually open to the general public without charge; however, some are semi-private. They usually profit by taking a portion of art sales; from 25% to 50% is typical. There are also many non-profit or collective galleries. Some galleries in cities like Tokyo charge the artists a flat rate per day, though this is considered distasteful in some international art markets. Galleries often hang solo shows. Curators often create group shows that say something about a certain theme, trend in art, or group of associated artists. Galleries sometimes choose to represent artists exclusively, giving them the opportunity to show regularly.
A gallery’s definition can also include the artist cooperative or artist-run space, which often (in North America and Western Europe) operates as a space with a more democratic mission and selection process. Such galleries typically have a board of directors and a volunteer or paid support staff that select and curate shows by committee, or some kind of similar process to choose art that typically lacks commercial ends.
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