How to Hang Artwork    
Temporarily with Masking Tape
by Marvin Bartel, 2004  

How to Design and Install School Exhibitions
How to Give Smart Art Awards for the All School Exhibition

last update: April 5, 2006

I do not depend of rolled tape loops.  Too often the work falls down in a day or two.

To support heavy flat works on paper
I make simple two-piece vertical
masking tape hangers.  Masking tape adhesive should not be used for a long term display because the adhesive remains chemically active.  Over time it will discolor the wall and the artwork that it comes in contact with.

1.  For an 18 x 24 mat - I decide where I want the top edge to be on the wall.

two hangers

2.  Near the right and left side near the top, but where it will be hidden by the mat, I burnish a 7 inch vertical strip of tape to the wall, glass, or whatever surface can tolerate masking tape.  Be sure to have clean dry surface.  If there is condensation, I do a good pre wiping with a dry paper towel and attach the tape immediately before new moisture condenses.
3.  I do not attach the bottom inch of tape, but stick a second strip of tape behind it with the sticky side facing me.  This one inch of face to face adhesive is very strong.  I make the adhesive that faces me about 4 inches long.  This give me a 11 inch hanger with 6 inches burnished to the wall or glass and 4 inches of adhesive facing me.

loops on mat

4.  I add a few typical rolls (small loops with adhesive facing out) of tape to the back of my mat along the top, bottom, and sides.  These are not to hold weight, but they help keep the work flat to wall.

one loop


5. I position the work against the wall and I burnish it against the adhesive of the sticky hangers previously attached to the wall.  The vertical hangers support the weight while the tape rolls keep it flat. I tug town on it a bit to check that I burnished (rubbed) it sufficiently at the right places to really hold the weight.
6. While two hangers hold on most surfaces, I often make the system stronger by using wider or longer tape and by using more than two hangers per work.  For long term displays I use at least four hangers plus the standard tape roles to keep it flat.  Displays longer than two months should be mounted with better materials. Masking tape adhesives dry out and/or stain the wall and the artwork if left on too long.

7. For a particularly difficult or heavy object, duct tape can be used the same way, but the adhesive may not come off of some painted walls.  See note below for removing adhesive from glass and from enameled surfaces that can withstand the solvent treatment.

Removing tape without peeling paint off the wall.

peeling it off

Paint is least apt to be damaged when I roll it flat back along the surface of the wall while removing. Fold it flat back against the wall before starting to pull it off.  Paint is most likely to come off when I remove tape by pulling it straight away from the wall. When removing art work from the wall, do not pull it away from the wall, but slide the work straight up the wall to peel the tape tape off with less damage to the wall and the back of the artwork.

How to remove the sticky stuff from glass, enamel painted, or well coated varnished, surfaces (not for flat latex wall paint unless you can touch up with paint).

I use WD40 spray lubricant as an adhesive solvent.  Spray it on and let is set to soak a few minutes.  I use Windex and paper toweling to remove the smeary stuff after the adhesive is removed. 

Long term displays
For archival (long lasting) mounting and hanging use only archival acid free papers, tapes, adhesives. If you need something ready at hand, strips of quality typing paper or cotton cloth can be used with white glue (Elmer's).  It is strong and does not deteriorate, get brittle, and leave a chemical stain like masking tape.  Archival tape is best.  It is made from white paper or cloth and uses adhesives that get sticky when moistened.  It is available in some framing shops and in  photo supply catalogs.

Read about Exhibit Design

Read about Exhibit Awards that Leave No Mind Behind and reward every participant while educating all of us about art and life.

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All rights reserved.  Images, text, and design
Marvin Bartel 2004. 
An art teacher since 1960.
updated: © 6-27-2008

Parents, pre-school teachers, and art teachers may make one copy for personal study.  

Permission is required to make copies, publish, or to post on another web site.

Please mention the URL or the title of this page in your correspondence with the author.   You may make a link to this page from your page without permission.  



archival mounting

removing tape

clean-up adhesive

who and what to include

help to get the work done



It is lots of work to make a nice looking school display of student artwork, but it has many benefits.

1. Children gain self esteem.

2. Children are motivated to do well.

3. The display is a great place to post the assignment goals.  This is good review and it helps parents and other teachers learn about the ways artistic thinking is learned. Students who write statements and post them with their work may learn even more.

4. Art teachers gain goodwill and sometimes it becomes easier to get funds and donations for supplies when they provide work for the walls of the halls and offices.

All of this is lots of work. 
Can students be taught how to help?  Initially they need to be taught the design and assembly skills to design, prepare, and mount displays of student work. 
This is an appropriate part of any art curriculum.  Older or more prepared students can then be assigned to supervise other students. 

What to exhibit?
When selecting work to include, how can we treat all children equally? 
Can we either display all the work or have a fair system of rotation that gives every child's work the same exposure?

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On the left we see, "The farmer and his family looking for their lost horse in the woods."  drawing, crayon, and cut paper. 

Emma Weaver, age 6, 2003

This picture is temporarily taped to the front of some black mat board with six loops of masking tape.  This is okay for the short-term classroom or hallway display.  For the longer term display in the front office, use better adhesives.

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Updated: January

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