Spotlight: Outside the Museum - Art in Architecture

Grand lobby with large artwork as part of the architectural detail


There’s a whole world of art outside the museum, where specific curated and themed collection areas don’t exist… Art has been used historically in architecture to define and enhance the built environments where we live, work and play; enriching our lives, stretching our minds and testing the architects and designers who conjure into being the places that shape us.

Architectural Sculpture installation in foyer
Full height wall art protected by art stanchion barriers in foyer space.
Office with artworks hanging on the wall, man walking past.

Establishing the Brief's Bones

Architects and designers are consummate environmental storytellers and keeping track of what’s important comes down to the brief. The brief captures the essence and vision of a project’s key desirable goals, forms the framework through which a new building or renovation comes to life and against which the design process is measured.

When art is to be a part of the overall concept, knowing the level of application is important. The application provides cues to space planning so that artworks have room to breathe and be appreciated; also, to structural support that may be required or specialty detailing so that the fixing equipment is hidden. Art is brought to life in architecture in various ways and here we name a few:

  • As key focal points that identify entry and exits.

  • As form carving elements that helps describe the shape a building.

  • As central organising elements, like sculpture, that provide geographical orientation.

  • Layering art elements based on an interior environments function as a form of wayfinding.

  • To engage and present a narrative about an organisation, or the building.

  • As cultural awareness designed to stimulate dialogue and the exchange of ideas.

Reception space with architecturally striking details in the walls and ceiling.
Luxurious foyer with art installations
Modern, contemporary foyer with art installations on the ceiling and walls

Holding the Vision

Holding to a brief’s vision throughout the project saves unanticipated re-design and budget challenges. In a world of specialisation and compartmentalisation, key over-arching concepts of the brief can be lost in the development detail. Even forgetting to build in support structure for a key corporate art collection.


We appreciate expert work and fortunately, there are experts that consult with architects, designers and owners, and help to hold to the brief. In this arena, one of our customers inspires us with her vision and execution. Kate Sweeney of Perspective: Art in Architecture has the rounded background to understand all the elements and to pay attention to the brief throughout the project.

Kate said:

"Many of our projects are site-specific commissions, which typically means we embark on a unique creative journey between the client, design team and artist.  Forming a cohesive brief is key to delivering the vision of the artist and the team, and we always enjoy the collaborative approach."

We invite you to visit Kate Sweeney at her website and enjoy her work:

Large wall mural acts as statement and anchoring point for the space
Hallway with architectural art detail running from floor to ceiling and along the ceiling.

Expert Advice - Hanging Artworks

Before embarking on an architectural project in which art will be an important component, we invite you to consider the following advice, with the overarching memorandum of; design with the end in mind, and mind the details.

  • The relevance of artwork in an architectural environment should be a primary element of a design brief. Appropriate wall or ceiling artwork management requires detailing at the design development phase. Leaving it until the end of a project creates costly re-design that is not accounted for in the budget and for which no building party is willing to accept responsibility.

  • Art track/rail systems should be a detail integral to a wall or ceiling and will require appropriate structural wall or ceiling support, similar to hanging loaded upper wall cabinets (or more!).

  • This is more important if the specification requires higher than standard weight carrying requirements. This requires specialty consultation and frequently a higher number of fixing points and specialty hanging connections. Think budget.

  • If cladding walls with fabric or wood joinery panels, pay special attention as the track/rail system should be recessed and the tracks working face should be flush with the finished wall. The tracks should be front loading so that the artworks hang straight down the face of the panels.

  • When hanging over fabric panels, bear in mind that artworks will tilt forward and press into the fabric. If the fabric panels are hollow, consider building out with steel pins at the base of an artwork to hold it off of the fabric.

  • If using bespoke colours or requiring large quantities, consider lead times for production; these elements add considerable time to delivery schedules and usually require payment to secure production spot.

  • Hanging sets that secure to the artwork require their own set of specification. This cannot be guessed at by the contractor or the supplier.

  • If a known collection is being installed, its best to have an artwork plan complete with art types, weight, size, framing type, glazing and security requirements. All determine the individual hanging set required.

  • If a general program is planned for commercial buildings, a “typical” outline of the above should be provided as the standard for this facility.

Large statement artworks suspended on the walls
Modern space with seating and artworks hung on the walls

Related Links

Perspectice: Art in Architecture - An art consultancy specialising in the curation of contemporary art collections in a variety of corporate, healthcare, hotel, mixed use, residential and public spaces.

You may also enjoy this further reading:


Speak with our expert team today to discuss your requirements and how our product solutions can help.

Explore Art Hanging Systems

Systems for your considered installations. Whether you are mounting directly to the wall, or looking to suspend artworks from a track system or over panels, we have solutions to meet your needs.

Posted by Jade Turner
21st June 2023

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