Live for Today, Plan for Tomorrow

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on December 22nd, 2010

In the museum world, we live with one foot in the present and one in the future. As I wrap up details for the crating of the Birds in Art tour, I can’t help but think about our next set of exhibitions. In fact, a few of us focus on exhibitions months, even years, before they are presented in our galleries.
Take our next set of exhibitions for example. We began discussions to bring Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller to the Woodson Art Museum in March 2007. Last winter, curator of collections Jane Weinke and I drove to Minneapolis/St. Paul and one of our stops included the University of Minnesota’s Goldstein Museum of Design to view the installation of the Herman Miller exhibition.
The exhibition will be one of the more difficult installations that our team will undertake. I wanted to see the various components so that I could visualize the layout and assembly in Wausau. We met with the Goldstein Museum of Design’s director and registrar and received a firsthand account of installation challenges.
We’re also preparing for a complementary exhibition, It’s Herman Miller Time: Today’s Furniture Makers Respond, and a few weeks ago, I accompanied curator of education Erin Narloch to Madison to meet with UW-Madison professors and students to discuss details for a design studio and exhibition of student-made furniture.
A third exhibition on the docket is a display of Google Doodles, those intriguing designs that appear from time to time on the Google home page. A handful will be printed and installed in the Visitor Services Gallery and more than 150 designs will continuously loop on a screen in the gallery.
Our goal in presenting these exhibitions is to demonstrate classic and contemporary concepts in modern office design. Early Herman Miller Inc. – designed offices were functional, yet stylish, and the company’s successful strategy has continued to this day. The computer and Google Doodles are an integral part of the modern office.
As these exhibitions take shape, our team is already at work on the next set of exhibitions that opens in April, Almost Alice: New Illustrations of Wonderland by Maggie Taylor and Mad About Teapots: From the Racine Art Museum. And on it goes, with one foot in the present and one farther down the road.

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