Organizing an Exhibition Project: Step-by-step guide

How to take an exhibition from an idea through the proposal submission.


Exhibitions can come in many variations, but they all have one thing in common; they are intended to travel.

  • Some Organizers have partnered with us to travel exhibitions previously shown at their institution.
  • Others have had projects in development, and we worked with them to integrate Art Bridges requirements during development, in addition to facilitating traveling the show.
  • Still other Partners have come to us with a formative idea for an exhibition to travel solely to Art Bridges Partners, and we’ve collaborated to develop these ideas into touring exhibitions.

Below is a general guide on how to take an exhibition from the idea stage through the funding proposal.

1. Start the Conversation

Before you start the heavy lifting of preparing a proposal, get in touch with us to see whether your Project will be a good fit for the Art Bridges traveling exhibition program. We can brainstorm together to ensure an exciting exhibition that meets your mission and ours.

2. The Proposal

Once Art Bridges and the Organizer (you) agree on further developing a Project, the Organizer will create a proposal composed of the documents listed below. Depending on the status of your exhibition, you may already have some on hand –feel free to recycle. The proposal is used to forward the Project to funding approval. Don’t hesitate to be in touch with us if you have questions about proposal contents.


Craft a narrative description that concisely explains the exhibition content (250 word max) as well as a longer Project description that includes your big idea, key messages, and the framework for the interpretive plan according to exhibition sections (2 pages max).


This list of the artworks in the exhibition should be organized by section and include notes about any special needs for or restrictions on individual artworks, such as special furniture or installation needs. Artworks included in the checklist must be drawn from your collection or the collection of any co-organizers.

Exhibition Fact Sheet

This practical document outlines the logistics of the exhibition. It should include the following:

  • Number of objects
  • Space requirements (square footage and linear footage)
  • Preferred start date of the tour
  • Preferred duration at each venue
  • Maximum number of venues
  • Maximum length of tour

Prepare a Budget

Seek estimates and prepare a budget for your Organizer costs as well as the venue shared costs associated with the exhibition. You will need to provide the total valuation for the show and determine insurance coverage as part of the budgeting process. Please use the budget template provided here.

3. Submit Your Proposal

All of the above materials should be sent to Andi Phillips ([email protected]).

Exhibition Project proposals require approval by the Art Bridges Board. We will review your proposal in advance of presentation to the Board and work with you to ensure greatest success. If your Project is approved, Art Bridges will issue a funding award letter and organizer agreement to formalize the Project.

The Art Bridges team is committed to supporting our Partners as needed during all stages of the exhibition process, including brainstorming, checklist and interpretive plan review, budgeting, logistics and more. Please reach out to us for support at any time.