Monday, September 14, 2009

Swimming with the fishes

The crates for our first exhibit - River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia - arrived on September 1st.
Crates arrive

7 of them! Four and a half crates holding 68 images and panels to go up on the walls, one holding the opening panel, and one holding 144 silk fish. I just updated the MCE facebook page to say how excited I am about the fish and I got a request for photos. Well, I can certainly oblige. But a little about how exhibits travel.

This exhibit originated at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center and has toured the Northwest. You've already seen how you move an exhibit: in custom built crates.

When the crates arrived, the first thing we did was... nothing. We moved the crates into our space and then let them sit. They sat for 48 hours so that they could acclimate to the climate at the museum (okay, they sat longer than 48 hours - I had a bit of a fight with some of the screws holding the crates on, and there was a holiday weekend). Once opened, the next step is to unpack and prepare a condition report for each individual piece.

A condition report is an individual examination of each object to provide a baseline. So we know that when the MCE received X object, it had a chip at the bottom right corner and a scratch in the upper right, 2 inches from the corner, for example. That way the lending institution knows what happens where. Condition reporting can be time consuming, especially with over 200 pieces to process. This is what it looked like when I was working on the images:
Condition Reporting

I would keep the report with the image until the image was moved into the gallery. When I completed the images, I moved on to the silk fish. The fish are beautiful, and the condition reports are pretty easy, since they're almost all in excellent condition. The fish are made from silk, painted by artists, and are meant to be hung from the ceiling. They're going to be amazing and dramatic. They range from quite small (just a few inches) up to 4 feet, and one that's 14 feet long - those are the real sizes the fish would be in the Columbia! Here's a glimpse of four of the 144 fish.
Condition Reporting

Spawning Salmon:
Condition Reporting

They're gorgeous on the table - I can't wait to see them all hung up with the historical photographs in the gallery.

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