ONE DUDE GALLERY: How to hang that perfect grid

Cloud Nine, Dean Nimmer, 2012
Carol Schlosberg Alumni Gallery, Montserrat College of Art

I thought it'd be helpful to do a little tutorial on hanging a grid of works.  This example is hung with magnets over nails.  You can substitute whatever size and quantity of work you have with the formula below.  ENJOY!
Showing my work, always have pencil and paper handy


Let's say you have a grid of 36 works that you want to hang in 4 rows.  How do you know how many columns that will be?

36 works / 4 rows  = 9 columns

So the grid will be 4 rows tall by 9 columns wide.  Now let's say each work is 14 inches high by 11 inches wide and you want to space them 2 inches apart.  How large will the entire grid be?

Dean Nimmer, Cliff 3, 2012
mixed media on paper, 14 x 11 inches
To calculate the total width: multiply the number of columns (9) by the width of each work (11).

9 columns x 11 inches = 99 inches

Now add the spaces in between each work, this will be 1 less than the total number of columns, because we're only counting spaces in between and not a space on each side.

9 - 1 = 8 spaces
8 spaces x 2 inches = 16 total inches
16 inches + 99 inches = 115 inches (total width)

To calculate the total height: multiply the number of rows (4) by the height of each work (14).

4 rows x 14 inches = 56 inches

Now add the spaces in between each work, again this will be 1 less than the total number of rows.

4 - 1 = 3 spaces
3 spaces x 2 inches = 6 inches
6 inches + 56 inches = 62 inches (total height)

[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] top row
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] 2nd row
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] 3rd row
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] 4th row

So your entire grid will be 115 inches wide by 56 inches tall.  

If you want to hang the whole grid at average viewing height (58 inches to center), we'll need to find out where the middle of the work is and how high each row of nails will be.  In this exhibition we are placing a magnet on the top left and right corners of the works on paper, magnetized to a small nail from behind.

Let's start by finding out where the top edge of the entire grid will be.  We'll divide the height of the entire grid and add that to the center line (58 inches).

62 inches / 2 = 36 inches
36 inches + 58 inches = 94 inches

So the top of our grid will be at 94 inches.  We'll need to subtract 1/2 inch to place our nail/magnet combination (we don't want to place it on the edge of the work!

94 inches - 1/2 inch = 93.5 inches

So now we measure where the magnets will go for each of the other 3 rows.  To do this we will add the height of a single work (14) plus the space between each row (2).

14 inches + 2 inches = 16 inches

Now subtract 16 inches from the height of the top row of magnets 3 times (one for each other row).

93.5 inches - 16 inches = 77.5 inches 
77.5 inches - 16 inches = 61.5 inches
61.5 inches - 16 inches = 45.5 inches

[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] top row is 93.5 inches
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] 2nd row is 77.5 inches
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] 3rd row is 61.5 inches
[ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] 4th row is 45.5 inches


Now that we know the heights of each row (vertical), we need to find out the spacing between each nail in that row (horizontal).  To do this we'll need to calculate the distance between each of the two nails holding the work in place.  We'll subtract the margin of the nail from the edges (1/2 inch each) from the width of the work (11 inches) 

11 inches - 1/2 inch - 1/2 inch = 10 inches

(edge of work) 1/2 inch ---> * <--- 10 inches ---> * <--- 1/2 inch (edge of work)

Now we need to calculate the distance to the nail in the next column.  To do this we'll add the margin of the nail from the edges (1/2 inch each) to the distance between the columns (2) 

2 inches + 1/2 inch + 1/2 inch = 3 inches

* <--- 1/2 inch (edge of work) <--- 2 inches ---> (edge of work) 1/2 inch ---> *


Be sure to use a level with a ruler as you measure out each distance.

* <--- 10 inches ---> * <--- 3 inches ---> * <--- 10 inches ---> * <--- 3 inches --->


Repeat this process until you've marked up enough nails (2 per work) for the 9 columns in the row.

9 columns x 2 nails = 18 nails per row
4 rows x 18 nails = 72 nails total

The finished project: 36 works
Hope this helps folks who want to hang a nice grid.  Remember to double check BEFORE you put a nail in a wall.