Chicago Pop-Up Art Gallery Spaces

Chicago has a thriving and vibrant art community. Throughout the city, you will see numerous art galleries where you can see and purchase works of art as well as many opportunities to experience pop-up art installations, the city itself is a living art installation. In this article, we will discuss more about what constitutes a pop-up art gallery, some of the popular pop-up art exhibit spots in Chicago, and how to set up a successful art gallery. Popup Chicago is the perfect space to host a pop-up art gallery exhibit. We are the perfect Chicago event rental space that regularly works with artists to showcase their exciting new work. Learn more about pop-up art galleries at Popup Chicago. 

pop up art gallery

What Is a Pop-Up Art Gallery?

A pop-up gallery is a temporary exhibition in nontraditional spaces such as a warehouse, storefront, or other short-term places and can last anywhere from a day to a month or longer. Pop-ups give galleries of all sizes the chance to diversify their programming, experience a new location, and explore non-traditional exhibitions. 

The pop-up art exhibit concept was started in New York City when there was a shortage of exhibition space but a surplus of art. Pop-up art exhibits served as a way for galleries and artists to showcase their work and for retail space owners to gain income from an otherwise empty retail space the idea of pop-up art was created. Eventually, cities like Paris, London, and San Francisco followed the idea and it gained popularity among other places as well.

The objective of a pop-up art gallery is to introduce art to a larger audience, introduce up-and-coming artists and produce an original and immersive art experience. Pop-up galleries are not just limited to artists but can be also used for other forms of art such as performance art, photography, or video. It is a more relaxed and accessible setting for artists to show off their work and for art lovers to discover new artists and experiences. Art also has a limited lifespan, when a new exhibit opens it is busy for the first couple of day but naturally it loses its initial appeal. When an exhibit is open for a brief period of time people rush to attend and purchase the work before the event is over.  

art gallery

Pop-Up Art Exhibits in Chicago

There are many opportunities to experience pop-up art exhibits in Chicago. Some of the more popular art gallery locations in the city are:

The Wndr Museum 

The Wndr Museum is an interactive museum that was introduced in Chicago in early 2018 but because of its enormous popularity, it has become a stable part of the Chicago museum scene. They have revolving temporary exhibits all year long. 

The Chicago Riverwalk 

During the summer the Chicago Riverwalk showcases a variety of pop-up art exhibits, concerts as well as food and beverage vendors. 

Chicago Loop Alliance 

The Chicago Loop Alliance is an organization that sponsors a range of concerts, pop-up art galleries, and public art installations throughout Chicago’s downtown area to make art more accessible to the general public. 

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago 

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) frequently organizes temporary installations and exhibitions of art all across the city. These exhibitions are intended to engage and inspire people in unexpected settings. The MCA has collaborated with numerous artists to produce unique pop-ups in unique parks like parks and libraries and is usually site-specific. By having a site-specific installations visitors get a distinctive and immersive experience while blending art and the environment. 

These exhibits are great places and opportunities to showcase your work but it can be difficult to get a space at one of these locations so it is okay to start out at a smaller pop-up galleries to build a reputation among the art community.

pop up art exhibits in chicago

Renting Out An Art Gallery Space

Artists, photographers, and designers love pop-up art galleries because they provide a variety of advantages that a more permanent venue cannot offer. Overall pop-up galleries are cheaper, allow for a lot of flexibility. It would be great if you could get a pop-up exhibit set up at one of the galleries mentioned above but often times it is difficult to get a spot or it can be very expensive. Starting out in a smaller space is still beneficial and provides lots of opportunities for artists to further their careers. Here is a step-by-step process for renting out and running a successful art gallery. 

Establishing The Goal of Your Pop-up

Pop-up galleries have a range of uses and provide a lot of benefits but it is important to set goals and effort your efforts to reach them for your pop-up to be a success. Try to choose a couple of things to focus on rather than everything because that can diminish your efforts. Through each step of your pop-up process remember your end goal with this exhibit and what is your long-term goal and how can a pop-up help get you there.

Create Your Concept

A pop-up space offers a lot of flexibility, which is something that should be taken full advantage of. Your overall concept is very important and should be decided at the beginning. It is difficult but you should try to create something that connects with your target audience and creates buzz to attract new audiences as well.

Research and Contact the Gallery 

Look for local art galleries that offer rental spaces in your area, like Popup Chicago. Check their social media pages, and website, and call about their rental regulations, costs, available dates, and what others are saying about this space. Finding the right space is crucial to the success of your gallery and do not just limit yourself to art galleries, pop-ups can be anywhere that you think will be a good place to show off your work.

After choosing the space you like best make sure you see it in person rather than just looking online. This gives you a better visual of the layout, lighting, and overall vibe of the space.

Negotiating Terms

Once you have decided on your space, negotiate the rental terms. This includes rental fees, deposits, and installation dates. Depending on the type of space your choose, the space owners may be willing to work out a favorable plan for you.

Installing Your Artwork

When installing your artwork make sure you follow the guidelines of the space and how you can use the space to make your work stand out. Keep in mind that since it is a pop-up you should not spend too much time or effort building a permanent exhibit and setting a budget. If you are planning on having multiple pop-up events it may be useful to invest in a couple of fixtures and furnishes but only do so if you are positive that other events will take place. 

chicago pop up art gallery space

Promoting Your Exhibit

If people are not visiting your exhibit then all your efforts would have gone to waste, what determines its success is the number of people that know about it and are visiting. Give people a compelling reason to visit, plan ahead, and do not wait until the last minute. It is important to promote your business and here are couple ways of how you can do that: 

Social Media

Social media is a great tool to generate interest and awareness for your pop-up. Events, pages, and groups can help you reach the right audience. 

Word of Mouth Marketing

Try spreading the word about your pop-up to the local community and interacting with nearby companies and other artists. It is important to develop relationships with other artists because they are a great way to meet others in the industry as well.

Digital Marketing Services

To assist you in attracting clients and expanding your art gallery, at SEO Design Chicago we also offer digital marketing services specifically for gallerists to help your gallery thrive. Come check out what we can offer you and let experts do the job! We offer: 

  • Analytics and Conversions Optimization 
  • Web Development
  • Local SEO 
  • Custom Content Creation 

Traditional Advertising 

In the digital age we sometimes forget how effective traditional advertising is but passing out flyers, hanging up posters, and investing in print advertising still works. 

Events and Giveaways

Running events and promotions are a good approach to generating awareness and interest in a short amount of time. Having a launch event, book readings, raffles, having a pop-up show, your partnering up with local businesses can help create buzz.

art gallery space for rent

Host Your Pop-Up Art Gallery Exhibit at Popup Chicago

If you are looking for somewhere to launch your pop-up gallery exhibit, consider Popup Chicago. Popup Chicago hosts art gallery exhibits all the time. In addition to exhibits, Popup Chicago also works as a rental space for art classes and as an art studio. Our space is ideal for hosting art spaces of all different types. We love working with local Chicago artists to showcase their work, including Olga Guse, John Yaou, Tess Watson, and more. Contact us today to begin the process of hosting your pop-up art gallery exhibit at Popup Chicago!