4 Reasons to Create a Principal’s Gallery This Year

Have you ever considered hanging student work in the school office? If not, you should!

While most of us already maintain a series of bulletin boards and display cases, these are generally in student-centered areas like hallways and common spaces. Placing work in other environments can motivate students and positively involve your building’s administrative team. Plus, student artwork is a much better choice than those ubiquitous motivational posters.

motivational posters

Perhaps it is time to partner with your boss and hang a “Principal’s Gallery” in your school!

A “Principal’s Gallery” changes the status quo by placing student art in an area of the school traversed by the administration, faculty, and community members. In this way, the work also becomes an important advocacy tool for your program.

Here are 4 reasons you should start a principal’s gallery in your school.

student looking at gallery

1. It’s an affordable and easy way to “move beyond the bulletin board.”

In my case, setting up a “Principal’s Gallery” was fairly simple. My principal was excited about the possibility of having student artwork to view all day, every day. To help support the idea, he allocated a small amount of money from his budget. With those funds, I researched and purchased a set of ten inexpensive frames to hold student artwork on a rotating basis.

When choosing frames, I considered four factors:

  1. Size
  2. Cost
  3. Durability
    I looked for frames with hardware that could stand up to a lot of wear and tear as I constantly rotated artwork.
  4. Appearance
    I looked for frames that also contained mats to save myself some time and create a professional look.

2. It gives your principal a way to become an active part of your program.

Whether you rotate the work in your gallery monthly, quarterly, or once a year, your school’s administration is going to see these benchmark exemplars of your curriculum more frequently. Rather than attending a “once a year” art show, they will become familiar with what is happening in your classroom on a more regular basis. You could even enlist your principal to help select the artwork to be featured!

gallery close up

3. It provides a venue to recognize and encourage your high achievers.

Don’t get me wrong; I am a “hang everyone’s work” type of elementary art teacher. Whether it is my hallway bulletin boards or the school art show, I hang what everyone makes, because I believe it sends an important implied message.

But, I also want to find proactive ways to give recognition and validation to my most accomplished students. Our art students are beginning to make decisions about their artistic identity, which will affect the academic courses they take in middle school and high school. I want my message to be clear: I recognize your effort, and I think you should stick with art!

4. It sends an unspoken message about the role and value of art in your school.

Great art programs have a way of making themselves noticeable within a school. The value and importance of art can be seen and felt as soon as you enter a building because the art teacher is making their program visibly known. Typically, the front office is the area community members see on their first visit to a school. It is where first impressions are made. So, put your kids’ work out there! Claim your wall space and proclaim loudly, “This school has an art program and its talented students create fabulous work!”

So why not approach your principal today? Replace those old motivational posters with beautifully framed student artwork. Not only will it benefit both your office and your art program, but it will make your students proud!

How do you involve your principal in your art program?

What non-traditional spaces do you use for art displays?

Lindsey Moss

Lindsey Moss is an elementary art teacher in Yorkville, Illinois. She enjoys art history and finding creative and artistic solutions to educational challenges.

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  • Teresa Euken

    I love this idea. Can you tell me where you ended up getting the frames? The cost? Thanks!

    • Lindsey Moss

      Sure! I ended up getting mine from Ikea. It has been awhile since I purchased them, but I remember them being less that $15.00 each. They already came with a precut mat, and they have held up for quite awhile!

    • Lauren Gilmore

      I would love to know where the frames are from also!

  • Mr. Post

    When I did this I would let families purchase their child’s artwork for the cost of the frame. Then I would take that money and buy a new frame. I did not change the artwork in the frames. We left them up until the child left our school to go onto to junior high. Many parents looked forward to the year they could purchase and take their child’s art home.

    To make this easy to manage, I would add a tag to the art work with the student’s name, media and grade. In the corner of the tag I would place a two digit year code for the year the student was graduating from our school. Then in June I would just look at the dates on the tags to figure out which parents to contact about possibly purchasing the art work in the frame. If parents did not wish to have the art work in the frame, I would offer to return it unframed. I only had one parent who wanted the frame removed – she had white frames in her home and ours was black – so she was re-framing her child’s art to match her decor.

    • Lindsey Moss

      Mr. Post- This is an outstanding idea!!! It saves a little bit of labor and it is a great service for the parents. Thanks for the great suggestion, I may try this next year!

  • amberkanescarves

    I did a similar thing in our high school library. The librarian set aside funds for 50 frames, we also got the local craft store to give us a discount. It looked great in the library and students always enjoyed seeing the work. The library also took the time to send letters home to parents whenever a students work was hung.

  • kwottowa

    I have a display in the school office called the Student Showcase. We have six frames and I switch out the art every 9 weeks or so. The students love seeing their work on display. I update the art room facebook account when new work goes up. The best frames I found are called Lil Davinci’s. They cost a bit more, but are hinged and easy to open and swap out art. The frames come with a 12 x 18 mat. I had a local craft store cut me mats for 9 x 12 art.

  • Genevieve Deits

    My principal actually just approached us today about creating a gallery of sorts in our front office! So happy to have supportive administrators.