An art gallery or art museum is a space for the exhibition of art, usually visual art, and usually primarily paintings, illustrations, and sculpture. It is also sometimes used as a location for the sale of art.
Generally, the term art gallery is used to mean buildings or locations dedicated to displaying and/or selling art, though the large 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.
Most large urban areas will have several art galleries, and most towns will be home to at least one. However, they may also be found in smaller villages, and quite remote areas, often places where artists have congregated. Examples include the Taos art colony in Taos, New Mexico, and St Ives, Cornwall.
Although primarily concerned with providing a space to show works of visual art, art galleries are sometimes used to host other artistic activities, such as music concerts or poetry readings. Conversely, some works of visual art are not shown in a gallery and, due to their form, never can be. Altarpieces, for example, are rarely shown in galleries, and murals generally remain where they have been painted. Various forms of 20th century art, such as land art and performance art, also usually exist outside a gallery. Photographic records of these kinds of art are often shown in galleries, however.
Similar to an art gallery is the sculpture garden (or sculpture park), which presents sculpture in an outdoor space. Sculpture installation has grown in popularity, whereby temporary sculptures are installed in open spaces during events like festivals.
The architectural form of the art gallery was established by Sir John Soane with his design for the Dulwich Picture Gallery in 1817. This established the gallery as a series of interconnected rooms with largely uninterupted wall spaces for hanging pictures and indirect lighting from skylights or roof lanterns.
The late 19th century saw a boom in the building of public art galleries in Europe an America, being an essential cultural feature of larger cities. Art galleries were built alongside museums and public libraries as part of the municipal drive for literacy and public education.
In the late 20th century the dry old fashioned view of art galleries has increasingly been replaced with architecturally bold modern art galleries, often seen as international destination for tourists in their own right. The first example of the architectural landmark art gallery would be the Guggenheim Museum in New York by Frank Lloyd Wright. More recent outstanding examples include Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Mario Botta redesign of SFMOMA. Some critics argue that these galleries are self defeating, in that their dramatic interior spaces distract the eye from the paintings they are supposed to exhibit.
Notable art galleries
- Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum van Gogh Museum
- Atlanta: High Museum of Art
- Berlin: Deutsche Guggenheim, Museum Island
- Bilbao: Guggenheim Museum
- Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago
- Detroit: The Detroit Institute of Arts, Cranbrook Art Museum, University of Michigan-Museum of Art
- Dublin: National Gallery of Ireland, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery
- Edinburgh: National Gallery of Scotland
- Florence: Uffizi
- Glasgow: Gallery of Modern Art, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Burrell Collection
- London: National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, British Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery
- Madrid: Museo del Prado, Museo Reina Sofia
- Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria
- Moscow: State Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin Museum
- New York: The Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum
- Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada
- Paris: Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, Musée Rodin, Centre Pompidou
- Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art
- Rome: Vatican Museum, Villa Borghese
- St. Petersburg: Hermitage
- San Francisco: SFMOMA
- Seattle: Soil Art Gallery
- Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales
- Taipei, Taiwan: National Palace Museum
- Tel Aviv: RawArtInt Art Gallery
- Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario
- Venice: Peggy Guggenheim Collection
- Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art
- Great Museums in the World (Louvre, Metropolitan Museum, MoMA, Picasso …)
- Websites for many art museums
- Art museums in Greece
- Chvatal's Art Gallery Theorem
- CGFA Large collection of images of paintings (ordered by artist's name, nationality or time frame)
- Web Gallery of Art 12th to 18th century European paintings and sculptures.
- Olga's gallery Commercial, but large online collection of paintings.
- Coptic Orthodox Galleries
- WebMuseum, Paris
- Artists International
- Private Art Collection
- Modern art gallery