How to Hang Artwork

There are a few general rules one should follow when you hang artwork. Wheather it is your new family portraits, a new painting from that antique shop or that rad wall tapestry your best friend just picked up for you on her latest trip out of the country. Whatever it is you should know that your artwork should be hung at eye level.

But everyone’s eye level is different! Right! The museum standard is 60 inches, but I’ve heard everything from 57 inches to 60 inches. In galleries and homes, the height is typically 57 inches because the viewing distance is often shorter and personal. When you hang artwork, it’s best to keep in mind how far people will view the piece from and how close you want them to get. If your only concern is your own eye level, look straight ahead at the wall you are looking to fill and find the place your eyes rest on naturally directly in front of you. And measure it. There is your center point for all works of art.

Questions to Ask before you Hang Artwork

  1. Are you tall or short? Adjust slightly for other people that might be viewing.
  2. Do you have short ceilings? If you divide the height of your walls into 4, you should hang artwork in the third quadrant from the floor.
  3. It’s best to leave a space that is 6 to 10 inches above furniture like a headboard or a couch. You want it all to connect visually not float high above it or get hit if it’s too close to it.
  4. If you are working with a collection of pieces as in salon style or gallery style, treat all the pieces as one piece, leaving at minimum 2-3 inches from piece to piece, but no more than 10 inches.
  5. If you want to hang pieces to be viewed individually, it is best to leave 12-16 inches between pieces so the eyes have room to view one at a time.
  6. Like always in art, rules can be broken, but you have to be able to justify them!

When you hang artwork in clusters, you should keep the individual pieces close together to be viewed as one.

What you’ll need:

  • measuring tape
  • pencil
  • a level
  • hanging hardware
  • wall anchors (use these for larger pieces)


Let’s Get Started!

So now that we have our general placement mapped out, time for some math! Yup. You read that right. There is math involved. But I’m going to try to make it easy for you. Back in college, I took a Gallery class. Along with helping to man the gallery while it was open, it was often our job to hang artwork for upcoming shows. It always involved scrap paper and even a few pencil marks on the wall, so don’t forget to write with a soft hand!

  1. Figure out the middle point of your artwork. This is pretty easy if you are only hanging one piece. Just measure the height and divide in half. If you are working with multiple pieces you need to measure the height of your layout, including the spaces between artwork.
  2. Add that measurement to your eye level. Let’s use 57 inches for this example. If your artwork is 20 inches high, the top of your artwork should hit 67 inches from the floor. But don’t hammer in the nails yet! One more step!
  3. Minus the DROP. The drop is the space between the top of the artwork and your hanging hardware. Let’s say there is one inch between where the nail sits in a saw tooth and the top of the frame. So that would be 67 – 1 = 66. Measure 66 inches from the floor. That’s where your screw or nail goes!
  4. Chances are there isn’t a stud where you are about to hang your artwork. Use wall anchors for the larger pieces, so you don’t rip big holes in your wall. 🙂

But I’m hanging with wire!

Wire is often used to hang larger, heavier pieces. With heavier pieces, you also want to distribute the weight onto two screws by dividing the length of the piece by 3. So let’s say the length of your piece is 30 inches. you will want 2 screws about 10 inches apart. To measure the drop you will probably want an extra set of hands. Hold the wire in two spots, ten inches apart and have someone measure the distance from the wire to the top of the frame.

So there you are! New art on your walls! Please let me know if this was helpful below!

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