Gallery Exhibition Policy

The Watertown Free Public Library (WFPL) offers display space for local artists residing in Massachusetts. Non-local artists who work or go to school in Watertown are also eligible to exhibit. Permitted use of the library gallery does not in any way constitute an endorsement by the library.


Public displays are permitted only in the T. Ross Kelly gallery on the second floor. There are two types of display space. An artist may use one or both.

Hanging Displays

Works must be prepared to hang on metal gridded panels. Works must be matted or framed, with a wire across the back to accommodate our hanging system. Glass is not necessary. Loose drawings may be hung using clips. Artists are responsible for hanging their work. Artists are also responsible for creating labels for their art, if desired. There are 13 panels on which to hang, these are 78” tall and 30-48” wide. It is suggested that the artist survey the space prior to exhibiting if the number of pieces to display is in question. Artists may not move the display panels. The gallery floor must remain wheelchair accessible.

Glass Display Case

The display case measures 48”L x 66”H x 16”D and has 6 adjustable shelves inside made of tempered glass. The case has locks to keep materials inside protected. Artists are responsible for creating their own labels and signs for their art, if desired. Please note that nothing may be taped on the outside or inside of the case and nothing may be placed on top of the case.

Application Timeline

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are reviewed in May for exhibitions the following calendar year. When cancellations occur, an existing applicant will be chosen to fill the spot.


When demand is competitive for available spots to exhibit in the gallery the following selection criteria are used:

  1. Artist’s connection to Watertown, priority is given to Watertown artists.
  2. Frequency of exhibits, priority is given to artists who have not previously exhibited.

Frequency of Artist Exhibitions

There is high demand for exhibit space. Because of this, artists may exhibit only once in a twenty-four-month period.

Set Up

It is the responsibility of the artist to set up and take down their exhibit. Artists must set up their exhibit during regular library hours within the first three days of the month and take down their exhibit before the last day of the month unless otherwise arranged with the curator. There is no space for the curator to hold artwork.

Please plan set up and removal of exhibits according to the library hours of operation:

  • Monday – Thursday 9 AM – 9 PM
  • Friday 9 AM – 7 PM
  • Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM
  • Sunday 1 PM – 5 PM

Opening Receptions 

An artist may wish to arrange an exhibit reception in the Raya Stern Trustees Room adjacent to the gallery. The artist is responsible for all reception arrangements which include booking the room, catering if desired, obtaining a food permit, setting up and breaking down, and leaving the room clean.

An artist should not assume the Raya Stern Trustees Room is reserved for a reception until confirmation from Library Administration is received. Room reservations may be made through the library website or through the administration office at 617.972.6434.

Serving food in the library requires a permit, unless catered for by the Red Leaf Café. The artist must possess this permit on the day of the reception if food is served. The permit application can be found at All questions regarding food permits should be directed to the Watertown Health Department.


The library will publicize the exhibit in the WFPL bi-monthly printed newsletter and monthly eNewsletter with the artist’s name, a brief description of the exhibit, and an image. The curator will choose an image from the artist’s application for this purpose.

The artist is welcome and encouraged to promote the exhibit through other channels. Artist’s promotional materials may not indicate endorsement of the exhibit by the library. Press releases must be reviewed by library administration before publication. Artists are responsible for their own handouts and printed marketing materials.


A list of works with pricing may be included; however, all sales go through the artist. WFPL takes no commission for work sold. Price lists should be made available to library patrons in exhibit spaces if the artist chooses to create them. Otherwise, please create a sign to read “If you are interested in purchasing one of these pieces, please call ______ or email the artist at _______ for more information.”


WFPL does not hold insurance for artwork on exhibit and is not responsible for loss or damage of the artist’s work.

Approved by the Watertown Free Public Library Board of Trustees, 4/4/2023