Moving on Down the Road

By: Jane Weinke, curator of collections/registrar on November 9th, 2011

To use a well-worn but apt phrase, time does fly! Just five days remain to see the nine-week Birds in Art exhibition at the Woodson Art Museum. Sixty of the 128 artworks travel to five other U.S. Museums where they will be on view throughout 2012. Follow this link for the tour venues.
While visitors have been enjoying the artworks in the galleries, the Woodson staff has been busy behind the scenes tending to myriad details.
Several important steps are required to prepare an exhibition for a multi-venue tour.  The first, and foremost, is proper packing to ensure the paintings and sculptures arrive safely at each site. To facilitate this we provide lists (lots of lists) and instructions (detailed instructions).
·      Inventory List – a detailed checklist of all sixty traveling artworks
·      Crate List – inventory of packed works
·      Packing and unpacking instructions – step-by-step directions
·      Installation Instructions – special handling requirements
A Condition Report Book travels with the exhibition. Each borrower is asked to keep an accurate record of each object’s condition at each stop throughout the tour. The book includes a photo of each artwork, an initial description of its condition, and designated areas for each borrower to complete.
To ensure that we know how artwork is faring along its travels, we request that each venue send us a Condition Report Summary or a Damage/Loss form.
We also provide more supporting information for each venue to use once the artworks are unpacked, arranged, and installed there.
·      Gallery labels – specific information about each artwork and artist
·      Education materials – for training docents
·      Title panel
·      Didactic information – a history of Birds in Art
·      Digital images and press release – for local media
·      Artist/lender contact information
·      A list of Woodson Art Museum staff contacts
As I look at the breakdown, the tasks seem simple. The reality is quite different.
Instead of sending sixty individual crates, many of the paintings are grouped in larger crates that are fitted with specially designed compartments.
This involves several staff members and many hours.
Requiring several sets of eyes, and thus more time, are those lists and detailed instructions. Straightforward and concise written materials are critical to a safe and thoughtful installation.
Museums like to plan and promote upcoming exhibitions. To make that easier, the Woodson Art Museum strives to have a DVD with all the materials described above to the tour venues eight to ten weeks before each opening.
Bright and early Monday morning, Birds in Art will be removed from the galleries. The sixty works slated for the tour will be wrapped and placed in the proper traveling crates. Each will be sealed, labeled, and ordered on the loading dock.
The twenty-six crates will be transported to Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure, Salina, Kansas. This is just the first of five stops along the 2011 Birds in Art road trip.
Then, time – as always – will continue to fly until the 2011 Birds in Art works arrive back here before migrating homeward.

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