Gallery Layout and Design with a Twist

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on April 24th, 2013

If you haven’t visited the Woodson Art Museum recently, you might not know that portions of the Museum currently are being renovated. Last year, while the new addition was being built, the daily operation of the Museum was, for the most part, unaffected by construction. The addition was constructed outside and separate from exhibition galleries and visitors. Toward the end of the project, doorways leading into the new addition were installed behind temporary walls with a smooth, almost seamless transition.

Current construction is taking place in the area leading into our changing exhibition galleries, which alters visitors’ usual route to see these artworks. For now, rerouting takes visitors through the new addition and the Owen Gromme exhibition. This presented a challenge for curator Jane Weinke and me when designing our current exhibition, Torqued & Twisted: Bentwood Today; in effect we had to reverse the layout for the traffic pattern of our visitors.

To create a “wow” factor as you enter the gallery, we chose to install a large hanging ribbon-of-wood sculpture by Jeremy Holmes flanked by Frank Gehry’s Power Play Chair on one side and Clifton Monteith‘s willow Carlton Chair on the other.

To extend the “wow” into the adjacent gallery, we placed large Yuri Kobayashi sculptures along one wall balanced by sculptures by Matthias Pliessnig and Michael Cooper’s Big Bang Theory sculpture in the center. At the end of the gallery are two Mike Jarvi benches and a video installation showing Jarvi making one of these works out of a single piece of oak.

In a few weeks the main entrance will be closed for further renovation and gallery access will change once again. Visitors will come through the Museum’s Twelfth Street entrance and enter Torqued & Twisted via a temporary “hall” into the gallery featuring work by UW-Madison woodworking instructor Jason Ramey. Ramey’s artist residency during the opening weekend offered an adult wood-bending program, a gallery walk, and demonstrations of steam-bending techniques.

If you haven’t checked out these current exhibitions, stop in and take a look. You’ll see how Jane and I were challenged by the installations. When the dust settles and construction is completed this summer, I’m certain you’ll enjoy the new spaces and  enhanced flow even more!

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