A vernissage is an event organised before an official and formal opening of an art exhibition. The artist or artists are present at the vernissage as well as people from the art community including gallerists, art critics, collectors or people who are simply interested in seeing new art or socialising.
It’s an opportunity for social contact and for people to talk to the artists exhibiting. Music, food, drinks, performances, speeches and other add-ins usually support a vernissage.
In the 19th century, vernissage was the day before an official opening of an exhibition. The artists would make final touches to their artwork and would celebrate the completion of their work. In the 20th century, the vernissage was an opportunity to market the works to potential buyers.