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Commercial art gallery manager

Commercial art galleries are privately owned, for-profit galleries that select and represent artists and sell their work via the contemporary art market. They have a significant role in the infrastructure of the art world and can help determine which artists end up in major collections or being shown by large public museums and galleries. 

A commercial gallery manager will work alongside the director of the gallery to determine the overall focus of the gallery and work towards ensuring that the gallery is both commercially and artistically successful. The responsibility of a gallery manager may include: sales and marketing; artist selection; liaising with artists, dealers and collectors; managing a team of staff; arranging the transportation and installation of artworks; curating exhibitions; liaising with and attending art fairs; managing an artist’s estate; general administration; managing a budget. 

Working hours are likely to be linked to gallery opening times and will likely also involve weekend and evening work, especially during exhibitions, art fairs and openings. There is also likely to be a need to travel both nationally and internationally to attend art fairs, auctions, exhibitions, and visit artists’ studios. 

What skills do I need to become a gallery manager?

  • Strong organisational skills

  • Financial acumen and the ability to manage a budget

  • A flair for sales

  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills 

  • A passion for art and a strong knowledge of contemporary art practices

How do I become a gallery manager?

  • Study art at school 

  • Study a related subject at degree level such as art, museum studies, arts management, curating, or art history 

  • Visit lots of art galleries and read art magazines such as Frieze and Art Monthly in order to familiarise yourself with contemporary practices and the work of up and coming artists 

  • Identify artists and types of work that interest you and aim to get experience working in galleries that show this type of work. This will also build your network.  

Where next? 

Look up other roles in the visual arts including:

Contemporary Art Festival Director

Art Curator