How to Hang Artwork

Classic paintings hung on an ornate red museum wall

How you display the artwork in your collection is almost as important as the artwork itself. A beautiful display gives the artwork the justice it deserves, while a poor display can potentially reduce the artwork’s integrity.

There are two key elements regarding how to hang artwork: the aesthetic arrangement, and the technical process of hanging it on a wall. Here, we’ll go over both aspects: how to hang unframed canvas and framed art, and how to hang art gallery style.

Steps

  1. Measure Your Artwork 
  2. Cut Out Paper the Size of Your Artwork
  3. Plan Your Layout with Painter’s Tape
  4. Drill or Hammer Holes
  5. Hang the Artwork

What You’ll Need

  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Paper 
  • Painter’s tape
  • Level
  • Nails (or screws for heavy artwork)
  • Hammer (or a drill and screwdriver for heavy artwork)

 

Step 1: Measure Your Artwork 

Measure all of the artwork you wish to hang. Be precise, or you could end up with irritating errors and off-centeredness. 

Measuring tape for artwork displays

Step 2: Cut Out Paper the Size of Your Artwork

Cut out paper in the exact size of your art (and its frame) that you’ve measured. Tape paper together if it’s not big enough.

Write the name or description of the artwork on the paper so you know which paper represents which painting.

Placing pieces of paper on a wall Descriptive file name

Step 3: Plan Your Layout with Painter’s Tape

Now that you have the paper cut out for every painting you wish to display, you can hang up the paper in your desired layout with painter’s tape. (More on aesthetic layouts below).

Make sure you use blue or other designated painter’s tape only! Painter’s tape won’t damage your wall, unlike other tapes.

Tip: Learn how to hang artwork so it’s at the right viewing level. The golden height galleries use to place the center of a framed piece of artwork is 57 inches, the average human eye level.

Artists’ tape and an exacto knife for prepping artwork hanging

Step 4: Drill or Hammer Holes

How you should hang paintings depends upon their weight:

  • A light painting (<10 lbs) requires only a single central nail
  • A medium painting (10-25 lbs) requires a picture hanging hook 
  • A heavy painting (25-50 lbs) requires a drill, screws, and screwdriver. 

Important: If your painting is heavy, use a stud finder to hang it securely and avoid wiring in your walls. You might also consider having a primer or spackle at the ready for covering any previously existing holes or damage along the way.

Supplies for hanging art and decor on walls: stud finder, hammer, drill, and patch up paint

Step 5: Hang the Artwork

Hang your artwork on the screws using the wire at the back of the frame. Make sure you use a level to ensure your artwork hangs straight.

With that, you’re done! The hardest part isn’t learning how to hang artwork — it’s deciding where to hang artwork.

Hanging artwork on a wall

Tips On How to Hang Unframed Canvas

If your artwork doesn’t have a frame, then it requires a few more steps. You’ll need to attach a wire to the stretcher bars in order to have a place to hang it. Here’s how:

  • Insert two eye hooks into opposite stretcher bars.
  • Cut a string of wire slightly longer than the painting.
  • Attach the ends of the wire to each eye hook. 

Tips on How to Hang Art Gallery Style (a.k.a. Salon or Museum Style)

What’s important to note is that there are no real rules regarding how to hang artwork in your home, so you should use your own artistic vision to determine how art is arranged on your wall. 

When you let your own vision and inspiration guide you, your art collection can tell a story, an idea one of the artists in our collection, Rolinda Stotts, might agree with. To quote Stotts, “You have a story to tell. How will it be told?” Rolinda is a master of figuring out how best to display art on a large wall creatively, and we are always inspired by her local home show displays. 

Inspiration and vision matter, but there are some important and common guidelines you can follow so your artwork is arranged attractively if you need some ideas. 

There are four primary ways of hanging framed art:

  • Straight across in a line
  • Evenly spaced in a grid
  • Clustered, arranged in free formation
  • Gallery style (also known as salon style or museum style)

Gallery style is perhaps the most cohesive and professional way that you can display your collection. To learn how to hang artwork gallery style, follow these key tips:

  • Align the top and bottom of the paintings horizontally, and align the left and right of the paintings vertically. Your paintings should have a neat upper and lower bound which should remain an appropriate distance from the top of your wall — likewise with the vertical edges.
  • Define clear visual lines. Gallery style hanging looks messy when it doesn’t have clear and even visual lines separating the artwork. Ensure there is a margin of at least a few inches between each painting, and keep the margin consistent. These first two tips are what differentiate gallery style from clustered style. 
  • Plan the design out before drilling holes. This should go without saying, but it can’t be left unsaid. Many home designers can get nervous about drilling a ton of holes in their wall only for the whole design to turn out slightly off-center. The solution is to hang up placeholder paper with painter’s tape, as we suggested above.

Contact the Professional Framers at Marcus Ashley Gallery

There are endless factors involved in creating your personal art gallery: the space you’re working with, your preferred aesthetic, the frames, the artwork itself, and much more. If you would like personalized advice on how to hang artwork from experienced curators, then don’t hesitate to contact the knowledgeable team at Marcus Ashley Gallery. Our art hanging and framing services are here to help you create the most beautiful home collection possible.