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A Commercial Gallery & An Art Museum

The term art galleries is used interchangeably between an actual art gallery where art is exhibited and sold for a profit and an art museum where collections of art are merely exhibited for the enjoyment and education of patrons. For the purposes of this introduction to art galleries, the former will be used. Although some of the most famous and important works of art are exhibited in art museums around the world, they are not for sale. The exhibiting of art for the purpose of sale is the major function of the commercial art gallery.

A commercial art gallery exhibits art for the enjoyment of the patrons, but the art is also for sale. This means that the collections in an art gallery are changing quite frequently as works are purchased and removed from the exhibit. The gallery will often have special exhibits featuring individual artists whose works are the centerpiece of special events. In most cases, the art galleries make their profits from taking a commission on the sale of the exhibited art, although in some cases, admission is charged. This is fairly rare in the commercial art gallery business, however.

The majority of work exhibited in art galleries are visual art with paintings being the most common form. Some galleries also exhibit other types of art such as sculpture and photography also. Some galleries that specialize in sculpture are also known as sculpture gardens and those that specialize in photographs are known as photo galleries. The term art gallery is most often used in place of these terms and many galleries feature all of the various forms of art.
The expression contemporary art gallery does not refer to a style of art, but is used to describe the modern commercial for-profit art gallery. The term is used to distinguish it from the art museum.

Many contemporary art galleries tend to be clustered together in certain districts in larger cities. Greenwich Village in New York City is an example of this although most medium sized cities will usually have at least one gallery for local artists.

There are also art galleries that are artist collectives and not run for profit, but as a place for the artist to exhibit their own works. Regardless of the type, art galleries and art museums offer the public a chance to enjoy art of all kinds and also the commercial galleries allow them the opportunity to take some of that art home with them to add to their own collections.

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