Summary notes on hanging a photographic exhibition: 100th Anniversary of Church

The below were guidelines written for a community group in a church in Barbados looking to display photographs in their collection to commemorate its 100th Anniversary. Whereas often we work on the ground with communities to develop their exhibition, in this instance they wished to undertake the project independently, to build capacity within their own parishioners. However, we still extended our offer of facilitation support where they needed. Courtesy the Barbados Museum & Historical Society, 2017.


Initial Considerations

  • Environmental check – assess the allocated space for display, is there any mold? Will there be any leaking / flooding with heavy rain? Is it in direct sunlight? Is there a risk that insects such as silverfish may be in the space? Assessing the environmental factors help decide best location. Exposure to harsh elements may harm photographs.
  • Artefact check – What are the conditions of the photographs? Can unframed ones be framed? Are they damaged / delicate? It is best not to handle photographs in delicate conditions, if there are any queries regarding conditions you can email or call us at the museum. For display of historic photographs, it is always best to get them framed with acid-free matting included, a list of suggested local framing companies are enclosed.
  • Measure size of room where photographs will be exhibited
  • Measure framed sizes of photographs and calculate how many can fit in the room, with even spacing between each photograph. For height placement, a usual guide for hanging is that the middle of the photograph is eye level for an average height person (5ft 5inch). The placement of photographs will all depend on what space you are using and what items are already in that space / on the walls.
  • Picture hooks should be fine for small-medium sized frames, for larger pieces you can consult with a hardware store the best hooks to use for the weight of the photograph. List of approved hardware stores attached.
  • Mounting of labels and wall text: these can be printed on regular printer paper and dry mounted (or glue stuck) to foam board. We usually use plain white paper and a clear font in black ink.

Interpretation for the theme

As you have a theme already in place (celebrating 100 years of your church), this will help guide how you approach a few things:

  • Layout: would you want to have the photographs displayed in chronological order, showing change over time? Or are there particular sections you would prefer to hang the works in (for example: architecture, leadership, activities etc.)
  • Introduction & acknowledgements text: you should have mounted an introduction to the exhibition, including detailing the background to the photographic collection, and what the exhibition shows. This introduction can even include reflections on how your Church has changed over time from some of your older parishioners. Similarly an acknowledgements text should be mounted, detailing who has assisted and funded the exhibition. These should go at the entrance of your exhibition space. You can also have print out copies of the introduction text that can act as pamphlets.
  • Labels: Each photograph should have mounted on the lower right side a label detailing what the photograph shows, the year, and who took the photograph. For example: “The Church Façade, 1926. Photograph by Brooks Smith”. If you don’t have all the details for each photograph you can just include what you have, and there is always the possibility to organize a research session at our Shilstone Memorial Library to gather more information on your images where needed.

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