Pop-up art exhibits have become an integral part of the art world, as they allow emerging artists to exhibit their work on a short-term basis. In a world where exhibitions usually take place for around three years, the concept of allowing young artists to exhibit their work in small spaces is appealing. Besides providing a convenient location for artists, these exhibits will enable them to promote their work on their own terms.

The Movement

The concept of pop-up art exhibits began in New York City, where there was a lack of space for exhibitions. While the owners of retail establishments struggled during the economic downturn of 2007, the concept allowed them to earn a living from an empty space. Besides providing a convenient location for artists, the exhibits also encourage people to visit local businesses.

The concept eventually expanded to other cities, such as London, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Paris. People in these areas were drawn to the works of contemporary art displayed at prominent museums and galleries. In addition to artists, gallery owners and photographers have also started to organize pop-up exhibitions to draw attention to their work. These exhibitions can improve attendance at museums and galleries.

One of the main reasons why pop-up art exhibits are considered is due to their longevity. Usually, exhibitions that feature limited numbers of works or those that showcase an emerging artist tend to have a negative effect on the gallery’s attendance. For instance, if an exhibit is only open for a certain amount of time, the sudden increase in interest in the event can cause a rush to attend.

The Players

Although pop-up art exhibitions have been popular with artists, larger museums and galleries are also starting to organize these exhibitions to draw attention to their works. One example of this is the Santa Cruz Museum of History. Through its pop-up exhibitions, the museum was able to bring an exhibition to underserved communities.

Popupartmuseum.org has a toolkit that anyone can use to create their own museum. In London, the Pop Up Art Fair takes place in June and encourages galleries to exhibit their own works. It combines the best elements of an art fair with the excitement of a pop-up exhibition, which allows emerging artists and professionals to meet and network.

There are various companies that help connect artists and gallery owners by providing them with the necessary space and resources to exhibit their works. Examples of these include Storefront, which brings together both parties in major cities where pop-up art exhibits have been successful.

The Exhibit

Although contemporary art is commonly featured in pop-up exhibitions, other mediums and genres are also considered appropriate. Depending on the location and the details of the exhibit, the scope of work can vary.

In Hong Kong, artist Raynaud presents his paintings celebrating his trips between Hong Kong and Paris. In Chicago, the River Assembly Projects converted an industrial barge into a floating museum that features large-scale works by local artists. The barge was then moved along the Chicago River and visited various neighborhoods to provide the public with an opportunity to view the works.

Due to the popularity of pop-up art exhibitions, they have become a vital part of the art community. One can easily find these exhibits through various online sites and newspapers. Large art-centric areas such as New York City, London, and Paris have weekly events that feature pop-up art exhibits.

In addition to supporting the artists, museums and galleries also work with each other to promote their events. Pop-up art exhibitions can be found in various locations across the country.