Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thaw Travelling Exhibition Condition Reporting

By: Christine Olsen, Registrar
As you’ve already read on previous blogs from my colleagues, the Thaw Travelling exhibition is going to be going to the Cleveland Museum of Art in February 2010. There are many steps that are taken in advance of a travelling show, or any loan for that matter, including signing loan agreements, making packing and shipping arrangements, and condition reporting. It is the latter step, condition reporting, that the Curator of the Thaw Collection, Eva Fognell, and I have been diligently working on the last few weeks.
There are over 100 objects going on loan with this show, from goggles to totem poles, and they all have to be photographed in the round and have every detail of their condition recorded. For large or detail heavy works or those with many condition issues, condition reporting is time consuming and tedious. We use ample lighting, black lights, magnifying glasses and other “toys” to help us see minute detail. Condition reporting it is a very important step in the processing of any loan and has to be done many times along the way. If damage should happen I need to know where along the way it occurred and develop a plan to remedy it as soon as possible.
Once the objects are unpacked at CMA they will be condition reported again in case anything has changed during packing and shipping. Eva and Chris Rossi, our Associate Curator of Exhibitions, are going to be responsible for this task on that end (they are taking over my role as supervisor of condition reporting and installation for this travelling show; and as any registrar will tell you, giving up control but maintaining the responsibility is hard on the nerves!).

When the venue is ready to be de-installed in May, Eva and Chris will go and do it all over again; with a final round of reports done by me upon its’ unpacking at FAM. Travel is inevitably hard on objects and I expect there to be some changes seen on some items, particularly those that are very fragile (which our American Indian collection inherently is); however, the opportunity to share our collection with visitors far and wide makes it well worth it.

If you have good attention to detail and lots of patience, you would do well as a registrar; condition reporting is the ultimate test of these skills. I am sure Curators such as Eva and Chris would agree that it is best left to registrars; I thank them for being such great team players!

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