Art Show Display Boards

How to make art show display panels

Two years ago, our school added a new multi-purpose room to their campus. Like many Southern California schools, we don’t have gymnasiums. Some schools have small lunchrooms and most have some sort of multi-purpose room, but ours was tiny. So we were able to build a brand new structure to house school plays, PTA meetings, gym class and art shows.

Only problem? No ceiling wires in which to hang student art. I used to drape long sheets of paper over these “wires” (the student artwork was stapled to these long sheets). Now, we just have three walls. So when I went Google searching for some creative solutions, I found this blog: The Craft Junkie. If you scroll down the page, you’ll notice some pretty cool looking displays on wheels. I emailed the picture to my handy-dandy buddy, Mario and within a couple of days, we had this:

How to make art show display panels from supplies from Home Depot

Pretty cool, huh? The panels are hollow pocket doors which weigh practically nothing. We hinged two doors together and screwed in wheels. Now I have three lightweight, portable display boards for the center of the MPR. If you’re like me and want to know how many pieces of art I can display, I estimated about 120 pieces. Yippee! And all for under $200!

Details for construction:

These are very easy to make, and although I don’t outline each step, I feel its pretty straight forward.

Each panel requires two 36″ x 80″ hollow, no-hole, pocket doors. Buy the primed ones so you don’t have to paint them. You can find them at your local Home Depot or Loews. (around $40). We used two metal hinges to allow for folding and four casters on the bottom of the panels so we could roll the panels around. The hinges allow for the panels to be folded and stored against a wall. We added a small chain at an angle (you decide) so that the panels would open up and fall.

We made 3 panels the first year and it cost me less than $200. Parents in subsequent years have made 3 more. The panels are great for small display areas as they hold a lot of art and are great for set design in stage performances. For the art display, I staple/tape art to a long sheets of paper (36″ wide) and attach the paper panels with two masking tape strips on the top. Surprising enough, this is all it takes!

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  1. phyl says:

    Interesting solution. What are the “hollow pocket doors” made from ? How do you hang on them? Staples? Tape?
    I have a penchant for big art, so panels this size are sometimes a problem for me, as I like more width. Check out my blog in another week or so, as my art show is next Tuesday, and I’ll be showing off my brand new display flats made by our awesome technology teacher and his pre-vocational students. No wheels though; that would have been a nice touch.

    • Patty says:

      If you go to a big box home store, you will find doors for sale. There are many types, but the ones I chose are pocket doors (meant to slide into walls), are 36″ wide and are hollow. In other words, not solid wood (which would make them heavy and dangerous if they fell over). The ones I selected were primed as well.
      I plan to staple the art work onto sheets of paper and then staple the sheets of paper to the display boards. I still have 3 large walls mind you, so I only needed displays for the center of my room. I have over 400 pieces of art to mount and many are big (like yours!)

      • Patrick says:

        You might want to try screwing 1/2″ thick (or even thicker) sheets of large rigid foam insulation onto the door. You can then affix the artwork using push pins instead of staples. It might be tricky to get the staples into those doors. When you have too many pin holes from the push-pins you can just unscrew the foam insulation and put on a new piece. Some come with a foil backing which can be easily painted. Just a thought.

        • Patty says:

          Excellent idea. I agree, stapling the artwork to the board would be tough. My intention was to use a staple gun and staple only the top of a large sheet of paper, which actually works fine. After the art show is over, I tear off the paper (with the artwork still attached) and give to the teachers.
          I like your idea though. I’ll check out the insulation board.

          • Dale says:

            Patty, I love your idea but thought I’d share how we display our county wide show. The panels could be covered with burlap or felt and we put velcro dots on the back of the work. Easy peasy display and can be rearranged as you work. Also the pieces come off without damaging the boards each year. I know you have little time, but you could try it on a small scale and think about it for next year.

    • VICKIE says:

      OR you could purchase picture rail moulding and attach it to the top of the doors, then use the specialty S-hooks with fish line to hang framed work.

  2. Julie says:

    Out of curiosity why do SoCal schools not have gymnasiums?

    • Patty says:

      The kids do PE/gym class outside. No need for indoor gymnasiums. High Schools in our area (Santa Barbara) have gyms (for sports events) but most elementary and Junior High School’s don’t.

  3. Cheryl Hancock says:

    Patty if you can get at a later date fabric called front runner – you can then velcro on the art works. All you need to do then is use contact cement and glue on the front runner. Just like professional boards.
    Cheers Cheryl

  4. Jodie says:

    Hi Patty, I’m a professional artist and would like to adapt this system for hanging canvases. Hmmm any ideas how I might attach canvases? Fishing line suspension maybe? Thanks for all tremendous help and downloadable lesson plans too.

  5. Jessica says:

    One of the junior high teachers in a neighboring school district took the masonite peg board (you know, the kind with the little holes in it for hanging tools) and built a frame around each large piece with 2x4s. She hinged them together in an accordion style and then used bolts and nuts through the holes to hang artwork that was framed. It looked so phenomenal and I thought it was very innovative.

  6. [...] year my friend Mario and I made folding art display panels for extra display at the art show. They were the single best thing I have contributed to the [...]

  7. janice says:

    Does anyone have a suggestion for a display panel that’s lightweight (for one person to carry) and will fit into the back of an SUV? It can’t be more than 5′ tall, OR something that can be deconstructed for travel, then assembled at the show. I need about 9′ to 10′ in total width, can be hinged or not.


  8. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for this idea! I’m going to make these to display my students’ work. I think I’m going to attach strips of cork, so we can use push pins and so they are lined up nicely.

  9. [...] year my friend Mario and I made folding art display panels for extra display at the art show. They were the single best thing I have contributed to the [...]

  10. hetty says:

    Thanks for the awesome exhibit ideas! What’s front runner fabric please?

  11. kathy says:

    I had an art show in my classroom last year in during the art festival. I taped 2 large moving boxes on top of each work table 4 x 6 (my classroom has 6). . I taped several pieces of art on the boxes (4 sides each) and found that I was able to display quite a bit of art. The boxes were donated by parents since they were moving boxes. The other advantage is that since storage is an issue in our school I have nothing to store away until the next art show. I also taped the art throughout the room as well as displayed 3D work on the tables. I will definitely do this again at t he next art festival.

  12. I am thinking about painting with magnetic paint or using command strips to hang canvas.

  13. […] my post about  pocket door display boards? Look how nicely they […]

  14. Jessica says:

    This looks like a great idea. I want to make several of these for an upcoming art show at school. I am having trouble finding hollow pocket doors at Home Depot or on the internet. Would you mind giving some links? I would really appreciate it.

    • Patty Palmer says:

      Hi Jessica,
      I went into my local home depot and just bought the doors off the shelf so I don’t have a link. They are very common so you can probably find the doors at any home hardware center.

  15. Hi Patty. I’m also planning to have an art show next month. Do you display students’ works on paper or do you only place the ones that are on canvas? Thanks :)

  16. Malissa Wright says:

    I love this idea and will certainly use it. Thank you for your post.

  17. Gayle cornish says:

    I was thinking it would be neat to do this somehow with a thin sheet of metal or a plain metal door – and adhere the kids art work with small magnets. That way – no pinholes in the art work.
    You can buy insulated steel doors but they usually come with panels.- so am not sure if flat ones are available. The doors could be painted a different colour- not necessarily white, but what fun. Kids could rearrange magnetic shapes on it- lots of potential for teaching pattern etc as well. Weight might be an issue . Love the ideas !

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About Patty

I teach art to 400 school children in Goleta, California. My art library contains hundreds of free art lesson ideas. My shop has art lesson plans, videos and resources to help you teach art to kids. It's a whole lot easier with Deep Space Sparkle.

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