What is it?

The Open is an annual exhibition held at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery and is open to applications from all people – from complete beginners, art enthusiasts and seasoned professionals. The Open has been celebrating East Midlands talent for over 30 years, giving all creative people a chance to showcase what they are doing - it is the people’s exhibition.

We feature over 200+ artists and makers and all artworks are for sale. The Open also accepts artwork from children and young people, making for truly original and exciting show. This year’s exhibition is called Open 32. 


How it works

You can have your work considered for the exhibition by submitting images of your artwork using our online application form.

After the submissions are collected a committee of judges, made up of arts professionals and arts community members, select an array of artwork, from painting, sculpture, textiles, prints, photography and more, from the submitted entries. The selected artworks are displayed in the Leicester Museum and Art Gallery in December.

To reach as many people as possible, The Open is structured into two categories:

  • Open 32: The People’s Exhibition (for people 19 years and over)
  • Open 32: Young People (for people 5-18 years)

This creates a unique exhibition featuring work of all ages and mediums for everyone to enjoy! All artworks are presented alongside each other in the main gallery in Leicester’s historic museum on New Walk. To support artists, all artworks in the adult category are for sale. A selection of outstanding artworks will be awarded prizes donated by local creative businesses.


Who can be involved in Open 32?

Anyone who lives or studies in Leicester or the East Midlands (this includes the regions of Leicestershire, Rutland, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire or Northamptonshire), and anyone who is aged 5 years and above.


When will applications open?

Applications will open on Wednesday 8th September until Sunday 24th October, 11.59pm. The links to apply are at the end of the page.

When you apply, please select the appropriate category for your application. You will need to send us images and information of the work that you would like to submit along with your contact details. The filename of the uploaded images must begin with the initials of the artist in capitals, underscore and then the title of the work in lower case.

E.g. Jacinda Smith’s work Trees in Winter would have the filename JS_treesinwinter.jpg

Images sent from a mobile must also have the filename in the above format.

All submissions must be made online, using a computer or compatible device. If you are having trouble with the online application form, or need help to apply, please send us an email.

Please apply at your earliest convenience to avoid technical issues.


Is there an entry fee?

Entry to the Young People’s category is free. Young People entrants can only submit one artwork.

There is a fee to enter work to the adult category of Open 32. Adult entrants can submit up to three individual artworks. The fee is dependent on the number of artworks submitted to the exhibition by one artist/collaborative group. The adult entry fees are:

    • 1 entry: £10
    • 2 entries: £16
    • 3 entries: £20

There are concession rates available for students and over 60s. The rates are dependent on the number of artworks submitted to the competition by one artist/collaborative group:

    • 1 entry: £7
    • 2 entries: £10
    • 3 entries: £14


How many artworks can I submit?

Young People entrants can only submit one artwork.

Adult entrants can submit up to three individual artworks.


Types of submission

Work can be in the form of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, textiles, collages, sculpture, models, ceramics and other 2D and 3D materials. This is not an exhaustive list, but an example of the works that we consider. We will not accept audio-visual artwork such as films or sound pieces. Please see the terms and conditions at the bottom of this page for further details.

We accept a series or works, such as diptychs or triptychs. This is considered as one work. We recommend submitting one image which shows the whole series together (i.e. the series hanging on a wall). We accept collaborative works.


Are there any restrictions on what I can enter?

We cannot accept work that is bigger than 150cm on its longest side and greater than 25kg in weight. Regrettably, we cannot accept any audio and electronic visual work. All artworks must be suitable for a family audience. If the subject matter is not suitable for a family audience, it should not be submitted for selection. 

Work that is considered to be fragile will not be considered for the exhibition. This is to protect your work. The exhibition receives over 500 visitors per day and artworks need to be able to withstand large numbers of people interacting with your work. We request that any work submitted to the Open is self-supporting and is made to be durable.

If selected for exhibition, all 2D work should be submitted with mirror plates attached for hanging in the exhibition.


How many photographs can I submit?

If your work is 2D, you should upload one image of your work.

If your work is 3D, you can upload up to two images of different views of the work.

This applies to both the adult and young people categories.

If you need help photographing your work, we have provided you with some helpful tips in the ‘How to Photograph Your Work’ guide available at the bottom of this page.


When and where is the exhibition?

When all the artwork has been selected and displayed, the exhibition will be open to the public from Saturday 4 December 2021 until Friday 21 January 2022 at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery.  

Visits to the exhibition will be by booking only, using the Leicester Museum & Art Gallery booking system.


Can I submit work as a school?

Yes. You can enter the work of individual students or you can apply with a work representing the school or class. Please also see the Young People Terms and Conditions at the bottom of the page.

Please send us an email for further information.


Frequently Asked Questions

I have submitted my images(s) but I have not received a confirmation email.

Please check the spam/trash folder in your email. If you have not received a confirmation email within 24 hours, please contact us.

I have submitted my images but I have made a mistake on the form or want to change some details.

Please contact us. explaining which information you would like to change.


Important Dates

  • Submissions opening: Wednesday 8 September
  • Submission closing date: Sunday 24 October at 11.59pm.
  • Entrants receive judges’ outcome: November 2021
  • Open 32 exhibition dates: Saturday 4 December 2021 – Friday 21 January 2022


Help with applying

Here you will find documents and guidance that will help you with your application. We have more information available in the below documents to help you present your work as best as possible. Please read the Terms and Conditions and guidance documents before applying.  By submitting your images to us, you agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions.

Application Links

Please enter your submission at your earliest possible convenience to avoid last minute technical problems.

For any enquiries, please contact openexhibition@leicester.gov.uk

Open Exhibition Gallery