USGS - science for a changing world

The USGS National Center in Reston, Virginia

Maps, Imagery, and Publications Hazards Newsroom Education Jobs Partnerships Library About USGS Social Media

Guidelines for Fine Art Shows at the Art Hallway of the USGS National Center, Reston, VA

U.S. Geological Survey
MS 135 National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, Virginia 20192

Art Hallway Layout Facility:

The Art Hallway consists of two wall spaces on either side of a long, wide hallway. The 12-ft. high wall spaces are 119 ft and 45 ft. long. The remainder of the space is floor-to-ceiling glass with plants; the windows provide natural lighting and are covered with UV-filtering film. The space was renovated in 2011, with new fabric wall coverings and lights. A hanging rail with wires and hooks for hanging pictures has also been installed. Shows can utilize one or both of the walls.

To get to the Art Hallway, visitors enter through the Visitors' Entrance, pass the Auditorium and turn left into the Art Hallway.  The Art Hallway, which connects the auditorium and visitors entrance with the Lobby, Main Elevators and stairway to the cafeteria, is a main thoroughfare for visitors and USGS employees. A loading dock with wheeled carts for bringing in pictures is available behind the auditorium. Gallery Talks can be presented in the Visitor’s Center or in the Art Hallway itself.

Art Hallway Layout The National Center
The National Center is a public, smoke-free building, open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is located at 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia.  Parking is available in the Visitor’s Lot outside the Visitor’s Entrance.  With prior arrangements, artwork may be brought in and taken out through the Loading Dock. A map showing the loading dock can be found online.  Vehicles are stopped for wanding and inspection before proceeding to the Loading Dock.  Due to security restrictions, all parcels and packages are subject to search upon entering the Visitor’s Entrance.  This includes personal items such as purses, briefcases, shopping bags, and boxes or packing crates of normal size. All laptops must be registered by serial number in order to be brought in and taken out of the building. Art objects that cannot be passed through the screening device are subject to inspection by guards at either the Loading Dock or the Visitor Entrance. Photo identification will also be required from each individual when signing in at the Visitor Entrance. Vehicles must be moved to the parking lot as soon as the artwork has been unloaded onto the loading dock.

Security and Risk Policy:

Art Hallway Layout

Security guards are present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Notwithstanding this security, the U.S. Geological Survey assumes no responsibility for the pieces being shown.  Any insurance of the pieces must be handled and held by the artist.

Submission Process:
The Art Hallway is only available for shows of outside artists on a limited basis, due to the existing schedule of Federal Special Emphasis months and committed Reston community shows. Most shows are scheduled one to two years in advance.

An artist interested in exhibiting in the Art Hallway should contact the Fine Arts Committee (see contact information below) and provide, in hard copy, by disk, or a website with:

  • Name and contact information for the Gallery and/or the Artist(s) – name, address, city/state, phone, fax, email
  • Subject matter, media, size, framing/mounting of the art pieces, and number of pieces for display
  • Background information, such as resume, overview, statement of the artist, review of work, references
  • Photographs of selected works for review by the Fine Arts Committee (e.g., a website (preferred), photos, or email images)

Periodically, but at least once per year, the Fine Arts Committee reviews potential artists for consideration for shows in the Art Hallway. Artists will then be notified of the potential for a show and potentially available dates.

The following art specifications and hanging guidelines are highly recommended. If the art in your show cannot be displayed in accordance with these guidelines, be sure to contact one of the contacts named below to clear any discrepancies with the Fine Arts Committee before you fill out the form on page 5.

Specifications for Art:

  • Artwork submitted must be the original work of the artist or group.
  •  If work is a print, it must be a limited-edition print executed by the artist, signed, and numbered.
  • Photographic prints must be from the artist’s original negative or digital file and be processed by that artist or under his/her direct supervision.
  • Works on paper must be framed behind glass or plexiglass.  Scrolls need not be behind glass. Canvases (oils and acrylics for the most part) must be dry and framed unless the unframed piece is intended to be shown without frame, as a painting that wraps around the side borders.
  • Three-dimensional pieces must not extend into the hallway from the wall more than 48 inches.  If the piece is not wall-mountable or intended to be exhibited directly on the floor, the artist shall furnish pedestals for the pieces.  These pedestals should be sturdy and consistent in appearance.
  • Works of glass may be hung by the windows.
  • Anything with unusual installation requirements should be cleared with the Fine Arts Committee ahead of time.

Guidelines for Hanging Shows:
All art should be of good taste for a public building where young children and diverse audiences are frequently in the gallery.  The Fine Arts Committee reserves the right to unconditionally reject any piece of art deemed not suitable for display based on content or quality.  If the piece is rejected, the artist must remove the piece immediately.

  • No marks of any kind are permitted on the walls.
  • As part of the renovation, USGS the walls now have a hanging rail with wire and movable hooks. USGS has a total of 90 cables and 90 self-gripping hooks.  Artists are expected to furnish any additional hardware necessary for hanging. Two-dimensional pieces must have suitable hanging apparatus on the back such that they can be hung from hooks or nails. Pictures should be hung on sturdy braided wire attached to the frame using screw eyes or other hanging hardware. No Velcro is permitted. Where feasible, work should be hung from the picture rail using the wire and hook apparatus provided by USGS. Hooks can be moved from wire to wire if pieces are to be double hung. Excess wire should be coiled in the back of the painting. If nails are used, they may be no larger than 3/32" in diameter. Works in paper by school children may be hung using pushpins.
  • The weight limit for each wire is 30 pounds. Pieces weighing between 30 lbs and 50 lbs should be hung on two wires. Pieces weighing over 50 lbs are not recommended for hanging. No more than 60 lbs can be hung from each 6-foot section of picture rail. USGS is not responsible for damage to pictures that fall on the floor.
  • Artist’s contact information should be on labels on the back of each work.
  • Labels and/or business cards may be affixed to the wall next to each work, with title, media, artist name, etc. These labels may be numbered to match an associated list, but may NOT include any pricing (see below). Labels may be affixed to the wall using push pins. Other stick-on mechanisms are not permitted for labels.
  • Works may be for sale; however, Federal law prohibits “employees and other persons…from selling or soliciting for personal gain within any building or on any lands occupied or used by the Department” (43 C.F.R.  § 20.504  Selling or soliciting.) Therefore, any sales transactions must occur off premises, directly between the artist or gallery and the buyer. The USGS charges no fee or commission for works displayed or sold.
  • Prices may be listed on a brochure or price list, along with other information about the artist/group, including direct contact information.  These will be displayed on a cube in the art hallway.
  • Accepted works that are sold may not be removed before the end of the exhibition.
  • Any hanging arrangements that are not in accordance with the guidelines must be agreed to by a cochair of the Fine Arts Committee.

In order to ensure smooth transitions between shows, shows must be put up on the first day of the agreed upon show dates and must be taken down no later than the last day of the agreed upon dates.  Space is normally available for one calendar month. Shows must be put up and taken down by the artist and/or group, who should provide all necessary supplies and equipment.  The Fine Arts Committee does not have staff to assist with hanging shows.


As part of the month’s exhibit, artists may hold a reception in the Art Hallway for their invited guests and/or USGS employees.  Artists may also give a talk about their work in the USGS Visitor Center, which can seat a maximum of 60 visitors. The Visitor Center has rear-projection equipment for slides or power point. The reception and/or talk must be scheduled in advance through the Fine Arts Committee. Any artist talk in the Visitor Center should be held for 30-60 minutes between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., when USGS staff is most likely to be available to attend.  The reception can then be held immediately following the talk. Another alternative is to schedule a less formal “Meet the Artist Reception” in the Art Hallway itself. For most USGS staff, these are best scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday either at midday, or as people leave, between 4 and 5 pm. It is a good idea to set up a sign welcoming USGS employees if you would like to invite them to stop to see the show and enjoy refreshments. If USGS employees are invited, flyers may be placed in a stand in the Art Hallway. If you are inviting many outside visitors, receptions on Friday afternoon may be best, but due to security limitations, no one can be permitted to enter the building after 6:30 p.m. and everyone must exit the Visitors Entrance by 7:00 p.m. The artist/group may provide nonalcoholic refreshments, if desired. Refreshments and reception items must be removed from the USGS premises prior to leaving the building. Tables and chairs can be provided by USGS as requested. USGS does not provide publicity for openings or exhibitions.

Short term exhibits:

Artists should be aware that there are occasionally exhibits of scientific posters, health fairs, or other exhibits in the art hallway. Exhibitors may set up easels on the floor of the art hallway, in the 1st floor near the guards’ desk, and around the outside of the auditorium. The walls are reserved for month-long exhibits, primarily art shows.  Short-term exhibitors must work around the exhibits on the walls, and exercise care when moving around the hanging artwork, the cases, and any artwork that is freestanding on the floor, as some of this artwork could be fragile.  Artwork and cases may not be moved by short-term exhibitors.

Signage:  Artists may provide a hard-mounted poster, which may be hung on the wall or placed on an easel (provided by USGS) to provide a title/description of their work in the show.

The Fine Arts Permission form is provided so that the USGS can make the proper arrangements for your show.  Please send it to Susan Miles three weeks prior to the show.

USGS Exhibition Permission Form (PDF | Word)

Contacts for USGS Fine Arts Committee:
     Bruce Geyman, Chair, Fine Arts Committee: 703-648-4342,
     Susan Miles, Member, Fine Arts Committee: 703-648-5768,