Free Little Art Galleries

When we were all basically home bound during the worst of the pandemic, I started walking my neighborhood daily. I’ve continued the habit, even throughout Michigan winters, except when ice makes me fear for life and limb. One of the joys of neighborhood walks is discovering new little libraries, those small delights in which neighbors use small boxes to take and leave books to share. In one local example there’s even a dog extension, offering sticks for the taking!

Recently I learned of a new variation on the theme—free little art galleries. It is hard to pinpoint where a trend like this starts, but at least one place seems to be with Stacy Milrany’s Free Little Art Gallery in Seattle.  The Free Little Art Gallery invites visitors to take a piece of art, leave a piece of art, or both. By necessity, the art works are small, viewed by tiny patrons in a dollhouse-sized gallery.

Since the Free Little Gallery opened, other galleries have popped up around the country. My home town of Ann Arbor has at least two.  Try a quick search to see what might be near you, along with tips for starting your own gallery. Many tiny galleries, like Milrany’s, seem to house primarily the work of older artists, but others are focused more on young people.  I have not been able to find one associated with a school or classroom, and I wonder why not? It may just be that school efforts haven’t reached a searchable location, but a tiny art gallery seems like a splendid opportunity to showcase student art. You’d need to decide if you want to continue in the “take one, leave one” spirit of the original galleries or add more structure to the opportunities. I can see benefits either way. If anyone sets up a gallery in their classroom, I know we’d all love to see it!

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