How To Behave In An Art Shop

If you're new to collecting art and are planning to visit an art shop or gallery to buy some artworks, knick-knacks, jewelry, or other items, you're likely already aware that there are ways to act in the shop, such as being polite and not blocking others' views of the items. But there are some specific things you can do to make your trip to the shop or gallery easier and less frustrating for the staff and artists. For example, these three behaviors can make or break (hopefully not literally) your visit.

Large Bags and Bulky Coats

Don't swing large purses, backpacks, or other bags around. It's one thing to have a moderate-sized purse or satchel that you have hanging straight from your shoulder. But if you have a large bag or pack that is slung over your shoulder and back so that the bag forms a visible lump that extends past your body, you put everything around you at risk. The bag could knock fragile items down and break them, or, if you back up, the bag could scratch or puncture a painting or photograph that isn't behind glass. (Or the bag could hit and crack glass, of course.)

Hold bags and coats in front of you so that you're always aware of where they are. If you have to, leave the bags or coats at the front counter -- the staff at a gallery or art shop is often more than happy to hold items there to prevent accidents.

Asking About the Background

If you're looking at art that is culturally based, it's nice to ask about the meaning or the background of the images. Not only does this indicate to the artist (if the artist is present and talking to you) that you're actually seeing the art itself, but it's good to know about any cultural aspects that may affect how you want to display the art.

Touching Without Asking

Unless there are signs permitting you to touch the art, or you have been given express permission to touch something, don't touch the art. Don't pick up jewelry, don't pat sculptures, don't try to feel the texture of a painting. Your fingerprints and skin oils can get on the art, ruining the look of the items and possibly speeding up decay, plus there's too much of a risk that you'll drop the item and break it. If you want to hold or touch something, ask first, and respect what the staff and artists say.

As you deal with art galleries and shops more and more, you'll get a better sense of how to behave and how to deal with different situations. Art shop staff are often busy, but if you have specific questions about that shop's particular etiquette, for example, the staff may be able to take a moment to give you some pointers, and then help you find some excellent artwork. Visit an art shop, such as Gallery Phillip, for more information.