How to Start a Free Little Art Gallery!

I get emails from folks excited to start their own Free Little Art Gallery, or FLAG, but they’re not sure how? What are the steps in starting a FLAG? Do I have to get permission from anyone to put a Free Little Art Gallery in my yard?

How to Start a Free Little Art Gallery

Step one is to check into the local regulations – do you have a homeowners association that might limit your ability to place a FLAG in your yard? What about city or village ordinances?

If everything is okay on that front, and you’ve filed any paperwork that might be necessary, it’s time to design your FLAG! I have a blog post, here, on how to build a FLAG, with links to tutorials by other folks. Many FLAG owners make an effort to make their FLAG look different in someway from a Little Free Library, or LFL. Since LFLs have been around longer, folks walking down the sidewalk may tend to at first think that your free little art gallery is a free little library.

How to make your FLAG look different from an LFL – bigger plexiglass window(s), easels and tiny people inside. Some FLAG owners even put miniature rooftop gardens on their FLAGs! So many options!

Choose the Rules for Your Free Little Art Gallery

How will your FLAG work? Will you ask people to make a trade of art? Is it okay to take art, but not leave art? How will you communicate the rules of your FLAG to your visitors?

Some FLAG owners ask folks to do a trade – to leave art when taking art. Others say, “Take Art, Leave Art, Love Art,” that anyone can take something without leaving art. Any version is fine, but visitors appreciate clear rules and instructions!

Keep the Art Coming!

How will you keep the momentum and excitement going with your Free Little Art Gallery? Many, but not all, FLAG owners have a dedicated Instagram account for their FLAG. Some FLAGs have a facebook Page. Other FLAG owners post on the site and social media of their host organization, such as a library, village government or art center. Some individuals post updates about their FLAG on an online network for their local area.

The additional excitement of having photos of their art in the FLAG seems to be a motivating factor for some who contribute art to FLAGs, so posting regularly can help keep the excitement up and the art coming in.

Many FLAG owners accept art by mail, when we post your listing here on this site, we like to include whether you accept art by mail, so that the artists across the country, and the world, who like to mail art can do so. (Wouldn’t it be cool to have art in a FLAG in every state – and on every continent?!)

Will you host theme months? Sometimes a FLAG owner asks for art on a theme, such as Halloween, or other holiday or seasonal topic. A few FLAG owners mix in exhibitions for a set time period, where the door is locked on the FLAG, and work is view-only.

How to Display Art in Your Free Little Art Gallery

There are three main ways that FLAG owners display art:

  • ledge installed on each wall of the gallery, generally made out of molding, though Scrabble type trays can also work.
  • miniature easels – these are easy to find at your local art or craft supply store or online.
  • string or wire across the top of the FLAG, with clips or tiny clothespins.

The last decision you’ll need to make about your FLAG is whether you’ll have tiny gallery visitors! A favorite plastic figure brand is from Lakeshore Learning, the “Lakeshore Block People.” See a sample listing here. They also offer smaller and larger sets.

Many FLAG owners have a sign reminding people to not take the easels and little patrons, as people do sometimes take those items. One solution would be to affix the easels and people with a permanent epoxy. (But then you lose the fun of rearranging things.) Another approach is to have a budget for replacements.

Can a Free Little Art Gallery be Indoors?

Certainly, a FLAG can be indoors, as long as that’s a public place that gets a reasonable amount of foot traffic. So far, the indoor ones I’m aware of are all at libraries.

One of the benefits of an indoor FLAG is that the build is simpler. I have a post on my artist website with instructions on how to build a box gallery without any tools! Read it here. With the addition of some Scrabble trays on the walls, and easels, it would be ready to receive art! And of course, signage explaining the idea and how to participate is helpful.

How to Get Your New Free Little Art Gallery Listed on FindaFreeLittleArtGallery.com

Get listed on this site for free! Just fill out our short google form to tell us how you’d like to be listed and send us a photo or a link to a photo (instructions are in the form). That’s it!

https://forms.gle/sozcLtyXuWdwXWak8

About Your Blogger

Hi, I’m Elaine Luther, an artist and micro gallerist. My micro gallery is called the Angelica Kauffman Gallery (named for the 18th century Swiss painter), and is now in its second year. What started as a single 12″ x 12″ box gallery has grown to a collection of 5 box galleries, one loft gallery in a former wine crate, and two dollhouses. Oh! And an outdoor micro-gallery that was installed as part of the Terrain Biennial in 2021 in the Chicago area. That installation of the outdoor gallery, which has windows on three sides, had a changing round of art shows during the 6 week run of Terrain.

The micro galleries have also been out on display in libraries, a creative reuse store, and an artist’s studio window. In 2021, the micro galleries were out on public display for 12.5 months (which was possible because of overlapping shows of different galleries). The Angelica Kauffman Gallery is a member of the international Guild of Micro Galleries.

This year (2022), we’re featuring mostly solo shows, though we also hosted the Taking Up Space group show in May and up next will have a group show of quilts.

Published by Elaine Luther

Artist and writer blogging at ElaineLutherArt.com. I make art about loving pockets, that I hate housework. I curate a series of micro galleries (1:12 scale) called the Angelica Kauffman Galleries.

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