All About Galleries

What does the red dot mean?

There’s something unique about an art gallery. It’s not an academy, and it’s not a museum, but it still provides a welcoming, open, accessible, public place for people to view, enjoy, buy, and learn about art. At Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center, we aim to provide public awareness, education, and enjoyment of the visual arts by promoting the works of Michigan artists. We hope to encourage everyone to feel like they are a part of the gallery. One of the reasons we have pioneered this blog is so that people can become more familiar with the gallery and some of what goes on behind the scenes. Our day-to-day roles and activities vary, but our goal is to bring art to everyone and create personal connections to the gallery.

What is gallery etiquette?

However, we often find that “gallery etiquette” is an intimidating factor for some of our visitors, particularly those unfamiliar with galleries, and in some cases, the art itself. We can assure you that it is not something to fear, and that anyone is welcome within the space. There isn’t a formal dress code; some of us prefer to wear formal dress and some of us prefer to remain casual. If you come in during a day when an exhibition space is being remodeled, you might see us in clothes covered in paint. On other days, we can be seen in professional attire due to meetings and other various events. The main point is, come as you are because you are welcome here.

How does the red dot work?

In addition, we have discovered that the buying process often intimidates our visitors. Basically, if you fall in love with a piece in the Gallery space, you can walk out with it directly after purchasing it. On the other hand, if there is art for sale in an exhibition, usually the buyer will approach a staff member in order to make a purchase. A gallery associate will then put a red dot on the label/title card (somewhere near the price) for the chosen piece. The red dot is simply a way to signal that the art has been sold. It will then remain in the gallery until the end of the exhibition in order to maintain the aesthetic of the show. When the exhibition is taken down, the patron can then take their art home. Any art not sold in an exhibition goes back to the artist for them to take home; unless further arrangements are made with the artist(s), the gallery does not keep the work in house to sell it.

For more about how and why the red dot is used, read this fun article from’s blog!

What does the information on the labels mean?

We are also frequently asked questions about what the information on a label means. Typically, the first bit of information listed on a label is the title of the piece. This is closely followed by the medium, or what the art was made with (clay, acrylic paint, wood, etc.). Then you will find the artist’s name and the price for the piece – if it is for sale. Unique to Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center, sometimes we show more than one price for art. This depends on whether it is being bought outright, or if it is being rented. In some cases, the art is used in staging for special events and therefore it is rented for a short period of time and later returned to the gallery.

How can we help?

As gallery staff, we are ultimately working to eliminate any obstacles that may exist between our visitors and the gallery. We want everyone to feel comfortable and welcomed by the space, the art, and the overall atmosphere. By knowing how a gallery operates, hopefully some obstacles can be eliminated so more people will feel that the gallery is an accessible place for everyone – not just artists and artsy people. There is something here for everyone.

Who knows, maybe you’ll ask for a red dot the next time you come to visit!

Written By: Madison Kautman, April 26, 2017