FC: photo essay | museums | Madison and Galena
1: Chazen Museum of Art University of Wisconsin | EXPLORE
2: Because there are so many ways that any museum can manage their collections, as well as house, secure, document and conserve them, many facets must be considered in assessing the effectiveness of stewardship. Depending on media and use, a museum's discipline, its size, physical facilities and geographic location, as well as its financial and human resources, stewardship policies, procedures and practices are shaped. The Chazen's new building clearly benefits from planning and design to create an inviting, pleasant space for students and professors on campus to study art, for visitors to benefit from being able to view more of the Chazen's collections, especially in contemporary visual art, and for the University community to hold fundraising events in an impressive space certain to appeal to a wide range of donors. In meeting the duties of care, loyalty and obedience to its mission as a public institution, the Chazen, like other museums, must also make certain that its employees conduct themselves in ways that merit public confidence.
3: "Know what stuff you have. Know what stuff you need. Know where it is. Take good care of it. Make sure someone gets some good out of it... Especially people you care about... And your neighbors. "Characteristics of Excellence in Translation"
4: Facilities staff made the Chazen a physically comfortable place to be, even though I couldn't take pictures in the Bearden exhibition that I went to see.
5: WE LIVE TO EXPLORE
6: Educators in the Gallery
8: This curator in the Mead Gallery was leading a tour of the contemporary art collection, illustrating the more active role that curators have taken on as museum educators, not simply researching the collection to mount exhibitions and write labels and catalogues, but also stepping into the space of galleries to interact with the public. These visitors were kind enough to let me tag along for a while and take a few pictures for this project, and I heard the curator asking questions of the group that invited them to share their initial impressions of different pieces as a way of beginning deeper exploration of themes of identity and nationality as represented in the gallery. In the case of this South African artist, questions from the group about the materials also opened the way for the curator to talk about the resourcefulness of recycling soft drink aluminum cans and weaving them into this large piece that also references Xhosa traditions of textiles.
9: The Mead Contemporary Gallery featured lots of different media as well as artists from lots of different places. Both male and female artists were represented, from western industrial countries that we would expect to see, such as Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, and Germany, in addition to the United States, and rising developing countries such as South Africa, Ghana, and China. Curators made choices to acquire and display pieces that would remind visitors of the vibrancy of a global contemporary art world with this variety of nationalities, and artists working in a variety of media: ceramics, textiles, glass, high-definition film, LED lights, metals, paper, inkjet prints, mirrors, mylar, charcoal, pastels, mixed-media photo collages, both developing new techniques and demonstrating older techniques being used in new ways.
10: told by artists | Curate to tell cool stories
11: with a piece you can actually touch, for a change!
13: Conservators make sure art objects get good care, and pay attention to lots of details.
14: In her interview, Joan Gorman, Senior Paintings Conservator at the Midwest Art Conservation Center observed that teamwork and leadership go together in the management of objects in museum collections, and described the registrar as your best friend in the museum, because the collections manager/registrar sees everything and knows where it is. Although I was disappointed not to be able to actually see the Chase-Riboud sculpture, the notice saying that it had been removed for conservation care illustrates that the Chazen is maintaining high standards of practice for collections care. Furthermore, the U.S. preferred terminology of "conservation," that implies standards requiring the use of reversible, detectable and identifiable materials in repairing and prolonging the life of fragile cultural objects also requires preparation and forethought on the part of the conservator. Here, the conservator and the registrar work together to make sure that the current location of this piece is known.
15: As Deputy Director for Collection Services and Chief Registrar, Rebecca Buck handles documentation related to the collection at her institution. Similarly, the Chazen's registrar, Andrea Selbig, handled the legal rights for this loaned object, making sure that it was returned to the lender in good condition by supervising the exhibitions staff who moved the sculpture from the museum's gallery to the loading dock for packing and shipping. The registrar would also have worked with the exhibitions staff to make sure lighting in the gallery made viewing of different pieces accessible, without causing undue damage from radiation. Reading about the work involved has certainly made me much more observant when I visit a museum like the Chazen, and it is also exciting to me to walk through the ALPLM and see that I understand more of what has to happen behind the scenes for visitors to have good, memorable experiences that make them want to return again and again.
16: Directors and CFOs definitely want you to drop some dollars before you leave, so help with the bottom line--but museum shop staff are the front line in that effort! | Museum Shop
17: Security staff and visitor services meet and greet
18: "Museum goers expect the unique experiences offered through exhibitions and programs to be continued in the museum store, in terms of one-of-a-kind items for sale as well as scholarly publications and quality reproductions." Museum store managers must make sure that visitors experience quality of service from store employees, and seek out unique, appealing merchandise at many different price points, so that visitors can have something to remind them of their visit and something to share with a friend or relative (or two). In addition to this, the museum store manager handles accounting for the financial records of the store's sales, and the logistics of filling orders from vendors. They are helped in this by the automation of the store's database of customers, which may also be integrated by information technology specialists to keep track of membership purchases, and ticket purchases for entrance to special events.
19: The financial health of the store is just one aspect of concern for the overall financial health of the institution with which the museum's director and chief financial officer are concerned. And although the work of the security staff and visitor services staff may not seem to be related to these financial concerns, a museum where visitors feel safe and welcomed benefits financially from regular visitors who may invest in memberships, spend money at the cafe or museum store, or even be moved to make donations. In their own way, by providing service to visitors, and being there when needed, visible and accessible and alert, security staff and visitor services staff are ambassadors for the museum, and on the front lines as the public face of the institution.
20: IT WAS TOO PICTURESQUE TO PASS UP, SO I STOPPED...
21: U.S. Grant's home, Galena, IL
22: IHPA managed and funded, but....
23: volunteers are essential
24: TO CARE FOR OBJECTS
25: IHPA STAFF BASED IN SPRINGFIELD TRAVEL ALL OVER THE STATE
27: I HAD NO IDEA THERE WERE SO MANY DIFFERENT INDIVIDUAL SITES! | HISTORICAL
28: SO HUMAN RESOURCES HAS TO HIRE SKILLED STAFF
29: Now I have a new appreciation for all the work involved in caring for art objects and historic sites; I look at everything differently.
30: Works Cited Interview with Joan Gorman. Accessed from http://www.sandboxstudios.org/clientfilemanager/JHU/601/interviews/JoanGorman.mp3 Interview with Rebecca Buck. Accessed from http://www.sandboxstudios.org/clientfilemanager/JHU/601/interviews/RebeccaBuck.mp3 Interview with Joan Olson. Accessed from http://www.sandboxstudios.org/clientfilemanager/JHU/601/interviews/JoanOlson.mp3
31: Lord, G. (1990). Introduction: The role of membership and development in museums. In Bearman, D., Functional requirements for membership, development & participation systems, Archives and Museum Informatics Technical Report. Retrieved from http://www.archimuse.com/publishing/memb_dev_part/memb_dev_part_Intro.pdf Malaro, M. (1994). Why ethics? In Museum Governance: Mission Ethics Policy (pp.16-21). Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Merritt, E. E. (2008). Collections Stewardship. In National standards & best practices for U.S. museums (pp. 46-48). Washington, DC: American Association of Museums. Schlatter, N. (2008). Museum careers: A practical guide for students and novices. pp.87--92. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.