Have you ever planned a party at your home for hundreds of guests, including the in-laws and that friend you haven’t seen in years? You’re ecstatic for the party and to visit with everybody, but everything needs to be perfect, down to the last detail!
If you’ve had this experience, then you can relate to how this museum educator is feeling at the moment.
The excitement is mounting. This is it; only today and tomorrow remain to tweak and complete the final details as we prepare for the opening of Birds in Art. We all have our to-do lists – finishing those things that can only be done at this time.
My day includes tweaking Art Park, adding vinyl lettering to freshly painted frames, putting out bird puppets, and checking that each interactive is ready for use. Everything looks fresh and new. I can’t wait for everyone to discover that the Reading Hills are back and the brand new family bathroom is located within Art Park!
With the artwork in the galleries, now I can spend time looking at how and where everything is placed. Much like opening a gift, the anticipation precedes the reveal and then you revel in the ways to use that new gift. For me, I sit, kneel, and stand in front of all the artworks to understand the visitors’ view. What can be seen from the vantage point of a two-year-old, someone seated on the floor or in a wheelchair? I consider the flow through the galleries, space around the artworks, and find connecting themes among artworks that can strengthen the museum experience. How can sensory experiences be used to help visitors connect with artworks? What tools, visuals, objects, music, movements, poetry, scents, sounds, and stories engage viewers? Once decided, supporting items need to be assembled, outlines written, and everything placed in easy-to-find places for staff and docent use.
Apart from the excitement of seeing the artworks, I also need to prepare for the opening weekend programs. I need to double check that supplies are set and loaded for Friday morning’s life-drawing for Birds in Artartists, Saturday’s Art Park Open Studio, and Saturday’s Artists in Action event. Who needs what supplies – when and where? Is signage made and ready to hang?
I’ve made a list and will be checking it twice as well preparing for the “what ifs.” What if it rains? What if it is ninety degrees? So many thoughts . . . what shoes should I wear to the previews?