"Anatomy of an Exhibition"

Anatomy of an Exhibition

How does an exhibition happen? Curator Ginny Kollak and Collections Manager and Senior Registrar Julie Choma walk us through some of the steps.

Conceived as a creative complement to President Blomberg’s inauguration ceremony, this fall exhibit highlights the museum’s permanent collection. The Berman Museum holds the largest collection of works by British sculptor Lynn Chadwick in North America. Curator Ginny Kollak wanted to explore this distinction, juxtaposing the timeless sculptures with artwork from contemporary artists with modern artistic interpretations.

The result? An exhibition spanning generations but sharing particular thematic, stylistics or conceptual motifs.

Partial checklist

  • Consider which other artists should be included. Reach out to galleries.
  • Work with the logistics and policies of other museums, learn if there are restrictions on light, temperature, humidity, etc.
  • Confirm artist participation. Loan agreements, insurance and copyrightpermissions.
  • Plan public programs, secure speakers and dates.
  • Prepare press materials. Work with graphic designer on invitations, text panels, associated graphics.
  • How will each work of art be installed?On walls? On special platforms? Is there a need to build a new wall? Special pedestals? Plexiglass bonnets to enclose the artwork for protection? Arrange for special handling transportation.
  • De-install the previous exhibition (in this case, Wayfarers). Pack and ship artwork in special crates.
  • In an empty gallery, the Registrar, exhibitions technician and trained student staff remove nails, patch walls and clean.
  • Painters re-color the walls and gallery furniture.
  • Facilities crew construct new gallery walls and special wooden pedestal plinths and metal sculpture stands.
  • Artwork arrives and “checks in.” At unpacking, a written report of each piece’s physical condition is recorded and a photograph is taken of the artwork and its packing materials.
  • The pieces are “set,” placed in the galleries in the spaces where they are to be installed, leaning against walls, the correct distance from doorways or architectural features of the room. Last-minute shuffling occurs.
  • The walls are painted, the pedestals are in the place and the nails go in the walls.
  • Labels and introductory text panels are hung.
  • Sawdust and scraps are swept up.