ART SCENE: Legal Advice for Art Gallery Owners

It’s fair to say that most of the people who have built their lives around artistry and creativity have less of a passion for bland legal principles. Whereas your sphere is bright with colour, the world of law is a monotonous landscape of black and white, with a few shades of grey thrown in for good measure.

Despite this, the two cannot always exist in isolation, especially if you’re in the position of owning an art gallery. Like any business owner, there are rules and regulations that you will need to be aware of, so here is a brief guide to help you out…


Like any commercial enterprise, most art galleries will employ staff, and this means brushing up on this particular area of the law. There is plenty of information on the specifics available online, but it can still be confusing. Luckily, there are lots of professionals out there to help you draft up proper agreements and to advise you where necessary, so be sure to take advantage of these if you feel at all unsure.

Health and Safety

Tied into the above, those who employ others and open their premises to the public will also have to abide by the appropriate health and safety regulations. This is especially apt because of the degree of physical work involved in running an art gallery, such as the frequent moving and transporting of large pieces. Make sure that you are fully compliant with all necessary rules and laws, and that you have proper insurance to fall back on.

Consumer Laws

As an art gallery owner, the likelihood is that you’ll be selling to consumers, not just displaying works for the sake of it. This means that you will also be bound by the laws relating to this area, so make certain that you brush up on them and check out your obligations.


An area of law that’s especially relevant to art gallery owners is copyright and intellectual property regulations. Running afoul of these can carry significant penalties, which means that you need to be as clued up on the subject as you can. If you are in any way uncertain of what you are and are not allowed to do with somebody else’s work, we advise speaking to a specialist to clarify your position.

Cross-Border Art Transactions

Cross-border transactions are a subject far too complex to elucidate in a matter of sentences, and concern questions of title, customs duties, and freeports. In some cases, you will be required to work within the frame of foreign legal rules that you have no understanding of, will have to mediate international disputes, and organise export licencing. Because of this, we always advise enlisting the services of an expert like Withers Worldwide if you are at all unsure of your obligations or legal responsibilities.

Make sure that these five legal bases are fully covered and running your art gallery should continue to go without a hitch.

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