Is there any difference between an art museum and an art gallery?

I was wondering whether there’s any difference between an art museum and an art gallery or is the prior just the american term for the latter?

Art museums are non-profit institutions designed to display art so that people can come in an look at it. The art is either owned by the museum or someone has loaned it to them from a private collection, or it’s on loan from another museum. Art galleries are for-profit commercial businesses that display art on behalf of the artist. People can come in to look at it and hopefully someone will buy it.

Art museums are non-profit institutions designed to display art so that people can come in an look at it. QUOTE]

The National *Gallery * of Ireland is just such an institution


In addition, not all but nevertheless a number of museums have found the need to charge an admission fee to cover the cost of maintaining their collection, although joining the museum via an annual subscription may grant you cheaper visits or access to premium hours and special viewing events.

Galleries, just like any other commercial retail entity, are free to the public.

The word “gallery” in a museum’s name doesn’t mean it’s an “art gallery.” It just means it’s a gallery - a large hall - where art is displayed. An “art gallery,” as the term is commonly used in American English, is a commercial business that sells art.

Someone could have a mansion that has room in called the “gallery” - it again means not that it’s a museum nor that it’s a for-profit business: it means there is a room in the mansion whose function is to display art or artifacts.

Going by the dictionary definitions, a gallery is “a building, an institution, or a room for the exhibition of artistic work” as well as “an establishment that displays and sells works of art.” Thus we have places like the National Gallery of Ireland, as well as the US National Gallery of Art which meet the first definition. In addition, other institutions that exhibit art (such as the Art Institute of Chicago, to pick an example) may have their collection displayed in various rooms or wings which are called galleries: the Jack and Ann Smith Gallery of Contemporary Art (a made-up example).

A museum, on the other hand, is “a building, place, or institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition, and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical, or artistic value.” So I would have no problem classifying the National Gallery of Ireland, the US National Gallery of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago all as museums, irrespective of their names.

The on-the-street distinction in my neck of the woods is just what missbunny said: if I say I’m going to an “art museum,” it’s assumed to be a non-profit institution for display of art; if I say “art gallery,” it’s assumed to apply to a place which is primarily a business that sells art. This is in spite of the fact that art museums could properly be called “art galleries”; in this case the second definition above is the one (most) people assume.

Although I should add, mogiaw, since your original question, paraphrased, is :

Is “art museum” just the american term for “art gallery”?

Before this gets too circular, perhaps you could give what the (presumable Irish?) definition of “art gallery” is, to see if that indeed matches the American understanding of “art museum”.

Note also that the word gallery also often refers to a room or suite of rooms in an art museum. LACMA names various sections of its exhibit spaces after major donors, as in “The Joe Blow Gallery”. You won’t think of it, and nobody says, Let’s go back and look at that Frans Hals in the Joe Blow Gallery, but you just notice it while you’re there…high on one wall you’ll see “The Joe Blow Gallery” in golden letters. I imagine that sort of thing is typical in large art museums.

The difference is that a museum would gladly call itself a gallery, whereas a gallery would hardly want to call itself a museum.

Generally, a gallery is privately owned business that displays art in hopes that a patron will buy it. These are the places where the art lifestyle, art movements, and all that underground jazz go down. They’re usually rather small, though there are exceptions.

In a museum, art is not for sale, it’s for enjoyment. Museums are for the most part large, though there are some which are small. Some museums are free, some have a suggested donation, and some charge admission. Those that charge generally do so for their own upkeep and to pay employees. Artwork is usually donated to museums by philanthropists, though sometimes by artists, and sometimes they may be purchased. An art museum will oft name itself a gallery, just to mess with everyone, or perhaps to distinguish itself from other sorts of museums(history,science, etc).