Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Exhibit or exhibition – what is what and what is right?

Original oil painting of Russian church in Moscow in the Winter
Recently someone asked me if there is a difference between exhibit and exhibition and what is it? I can see why this question comes up since many artists use these terms interchangeably.

In the art community either one will work when talking about a public showing of artwork, many other places will accept either one as well. So, from the point of view of communicating with others, it really doesn't matter. The difference is in the definition and if one wants to go an extra mile and use these terms correctly.

If we keep the use of these words to the artist's world, then:

Exhibit - is an artwork that is part of collection of other artworks or a sole artwork being presented in a public showing. In other words exhibit is a single piece of art that is part of the Exhibition.

Exhibition - is a public showing of art (usually multiple artworks but can be a single artwork). In other words exhibition is a way of showing multiple (or single) exhibits to the public. Exhibiting - is a process of showing artworks that are part of an exhibition.

Interestingly enough even Wikipedia has definition for exhibition where exhibit and exhibition are considered equally the same:

-- Art exhibitions are traditionally the space in which art objects (in the most general sense) meet an audience. The exhibit is universally understood to be for some temporary period unless, as is rarely true, it is stated to be a "permanent exhibition". In American English, they may be called "exhibit", "exposition" (the French word) or "show". In UK English, they are always called "exhibitions" or "shows", and an individual item in the show is an "exhibit". --

Hope this will clear things up a little,

My on-line Art Exhibition

Mikhail Onanov


  1. Thank you. People are confusing when they talk about things that are interchangeable like that. I really appreciate the blog.

    Best Regards,

  2. Interestingly enough even Wikipedia is confused to a degree - glad you liked it.

  3. I have 2 oil paintings by Paul N. Norton. One is a very nice print, I was told when I had it framed . that one is titled Seaport Street Mystic Conn. the second one is signed also, but he didn't put a name on it. It's a oil painting of some beach, with tiki hut's, palm tree's, My husband thinks its of key West in Fla.-


    1. Thank You for sharing- unfortunately you posted a comment here instead of the post about Paul N Norton so not many people will see this.