Art Galleries vs Art Museums — What is the Difference?

By Newark Tees

Art Galleries vs Art Museums

What is the Difference Between an Art Gallery and an Art Museum?

Art galleries and museums are two types of institutions that promote art in different ways, though they often appear to be quite similar. While both galleries and museums may have vast collections, host events, and even provide educational programming, there are some key differences between them.

The Mission

The primary difference between an art gallery and a museum is their mission. Art galleries exist to make a profit by selling the artwork they display, while museums seek to educate the public and preserve the artwork for future generations. That said, an art gallery typically display only a small portion of their total collection at any given time, while an art museum often exhibit most of their holdings.

The Focus

Another key difference is that art galleries focus on contemporary works, while museums cover a more comprehensive range of historical periods. This is not always the case—some galleries specialize in specific time periods or art styles—and some museums have contemporary wings—but this is generally true for most institutions.

The Layout

Art gallery layouts are typically much more open than museum layouts. This allows potential buyers to get a better view of the artwork on display and makes it easier to move pieces around when different exhibitions are being planned. Museum layouts are more maze-like, with smaller rooms and tighter hallways designed to control visitor flow.

Though their missions may differ significantly, art galleries and museums can be great places to learn about art history and appreciate beautiful works of artistry. Whether you’re looking for something new or something old, there’s sure to be something that appeals to everyone’s taste at either institution.

Main Takeaways

  • Art Museums and Art Galleries display artwork to the public in different ways.
  • Art Museums are focused on education and entertainment, while Art Galleries are businesses that sell art.
  • Art Museums are usually publicly funded, while Art Galleries rely on selling artwork to make money.
  • Art Museums often have permanent collections of well-known or historical pieces, while Art Galleries often show contemporary work.

Where to Find Art Galleries and Museums in Newark

Newark has been a hub for artists, but the city is seeing an incredible transformation into a vibrant urban center with art galleries and museums popping up in the past few years.

Whether you're a fan of the craftsmanship of traditional glassblowing or modern and contemporary art, between the galleries and museums, there will be something for everyone. It's no wonder why so many people are visiting Newark to experience the art scene firsthand.


Photo credit: @ExpressNewark, @PaulRobesonGalleries