Scrutinize a canvas until you know it in all its aspects; go searching for what the artist wanted to signify: For many, art is more than a passion: it is a priesthood.

Maybe this is your case. Perhaps you are even seriously considering opening an art gallery. If so, good news: this article is just for you.

From the idea to the search for funding, we go through each of the steps to create an art gallery.

art museum gallery

First step: market research

The first step in opening an art gallery is essential: it is to carry out market research.

To do this, you will need to learn about the art sector, the state of its market, trends, consumer expectations, and the competition to identify a viable commercial positioning for your gallery.

This step is quite delicate because the art market remains a niche market, little known, and little information circulates. To get around this problem, you will need to get your information at the source, that is, directly from art galleries, and talk to both buyers and owners to assess the commercial potential for your business. 

One thing is certain, whether, in France or the rest of the world, art continues to attract. Fine arts auctions show historical figures. Thus, in 2013, worldwide sales represented 12.05 billion euros. A record was quickly broken, with 15.2 billion in 2014.

Although these figures do not consider the turnover of art galleries, fine arts auctions are probably less sensitive to economic conditions, given the high price of these works destined for an affluent clientele. They nevertheless give a first indication of the trend in the market.

According to a study published in 2013 by the Ministry of Culture, France has around 2,200 art galleries, nearly half of which are located in the Paris region. The Paris region also represents 86% of the market in value, estimated at almost 1 billion euros in 2011.

French art galleries achieve an average turnover of € 1.15m in the Paris region and € 241k in the provinces, with strong disparities depending on the gallery.

Note: only 10% of galleries sell works of art at prices above 150k €, and 40% of galleries achieve half of their turnover with their five largest collectors.

What will be the concept of your gallery?

Once your market research has finished, you will be able to refine your commercial positioning. And This will depend in part on the dynamics of the local market and your competitors' positioning.

If the competition around you is strong, you will probably have to differentiate yourself to avoid sharing the market with you by being positioned in the same niche as other galleries, which would put a heavy strain on your turnover.

For example, if the painting and sculpture sectors are already strongly represented, why not go to an art gallery dedicated to photography?

You can also choose to join a franchise network, in which case your concept will be that of the network.

Finally, you can create an associative art gallery. In other words, to create a gallery based on an association of law 1901 and not on a company.

Buy Modern Display Cases For Your Art Gallery!

In what type of premises to open an art gallery?

The choice of premises for an art gallery is not very complex: it is, above all, a question of having sufficient space to store and exhibit the works.

On the other hand, its location will be important. An important element is to situate yourself alongside actors who are already attracting an audience in your target market. In your case, fans of the theater or flea markets may be sensitive to what you offer. An establishment in districts with this building or near other art galleries can be a winning strategy.

What legal status of an art gallery?

The next step towards opening your art gallery is choosing the legal form.

We will not mention here the case of the associative art gallery. If you have chosen the association, you will certainly have the status of an association under the 1901 law, that is to say, an association for non-profit. In this case, your art gallery should not enrich you.

On the other hand, if you are starting a business, you will have to choose between the many possible legal statuses. This choice is not to be taken lightly because it will have an impact on:

  • The scope of your liability: for example, with a situation like the sole proprietorship (EI), your liability is unlimited, which means that in the event of bankruptcy, you will be liable for the debts of the company on your assets.
  • Taxation of the gallery: depending on the type of company, you will be subject to corporation tax or income tax
  • Your social security system as a manager: will you be considered an employee or a self-employed person?

What does it take to open an art gallery?

Before going any further, let's take a look at what you'll need to open your gallery.

The room will not be enough, and you will also have to anticipate the personnel and material necessary to exploit the gallery.

On the personal side, the needs will be quite limited, one or two employees should be sufficient. According to the Ministry of Culture study mentioned above, most art galleries employ only one person.

The bulk of the budget will probably be allocated to works, and here you will need to set up a sourcing strategy from local, national, or international artists. Note that you will be competing with museums and associations on this part.

Also, plan for the necessary material for the administrative part of the activity and investments in the marketing part (sign, website, etc.). For all this, we advise you to request quotes from several suppliers and compare prices.

You will also need to make one or more declarations, depending on what you are presenting.

  • If you exhibit graphic and plastic arts (painting, sculpture, engraving, etc.), you must register at the Maison des Artistes within 8 days of registering with the CCI.
  • You may also need to declare your gallery to AGESSA if you are exhibiting writings or photographs, for example.
  • You must also keep a police register if you expose precious metals (gold, silver, platinum ...).

Find More Display Shelves For Art Gallery

Opening an art gallery: the marketing plan

As you advance your art gallery business plan, you are in the process of finalizing your marketing plan. In other words, you need to think about how to market your company.

Beyond the location of your local, which will benefit from more or less visibility, there are different channels to attract customers to your gallery.

And This is the case with local media, and you can try to get talked about when you open or exhibit new artists.

Visuals (posters and flyers) can also be a valuable ally. Here again, be relevant: you will surely be more likely to find a receptive audience in hosting a theater or cultural associations, for example.

Finally, the creation of a website seems almost essential. It's a convenient way to get information about your galleries, such as opening times and artists exhibiting.

Now is the time to write your art gallery business plan

The next step is one of the most important in your project: writing the business plan for your art gallery.

The business plan is the reference document for the search for financing. It contains a written part used to present the project and its assets and a financial forecast to quantify the financing need and the potential for profitability.

It has three functions:

  • It should allow you to check that you have not forgotten any steps. If so, there will be a "hole" in your file.
  • It highlights your future gallery's viability (or non-viability), especially from a financial point of view. It is better to realize that your project is obsolete at the business plan time than after buying the equipment.
  • Last but not least, it allows you to convince your future financial partners.

The Pedestal Showcase For Museum Display

Finding funding to open an art gallery

Now that you have a solid business plan, you can start looking for funding.

Several options are at your disposal to raise the necessary sum, and you can, for example:

  • Solicit private investors
  • Call for donations via a crowdfunding platform.
  • Try your luck with the banks.
  • Look for subsidies. These can be very important in the cultural field, especially if you found an association law 1901.

Ant Display is a professional commercial furniture manufacturer for 18 years. We supply art gallery display racks and display systems and modern museum showcase and wall cabinets; if you are starting an art museum or gallery and looking for display furniture, welcome to visit Ant Display.