Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thaw Travelling Crate Construction

By: Christine Olsen, Registrar

As you may already know from previous blogs, our traveling exhibition, Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection is going to be shipped to the Cleveland Museum of Art in February. It will be on exhibit there from March 7, 2010 – May 30, 2010. This week has been especially busy here at FAM with preparations for this venue. Six professional packers from a fine art shipping company have been here all week packing the objects into custom made boxes and crates for their travel across country. The skeletons for the boxes and crates were built off site at the shipping company’s production facility, and shipped here last week on a tractor trailer. These types of custom made crates and boxes are the industry (i.e. museum) standard. As you may recall, some of my previous blogs have discussed crating for paintings and sculpture in our most recent exhibits America’s Rome and Through the Eyes of Others travelling exhibit. The crates for this show are no different in design their interiors are just more elaborate to accommodate intricate three dimensional objects such as masks, headdresses, moccasins and clothing to name a few. The interiors of the crates and boxes are being customized here at FAM by the packers to fit each piece of artwork perfectly, thereby providing the necessary stability for travel. It is a long and bumpy ride, even on an air ride truck, and it doesn’t take much to cause damage to artwork. Interior supports are built from various acid-free, inert materials well known in the museum world, such as ethafoam and polyethylene foam blocks and sheets cut into various shapes and sizes and volara or Teflon film for use as barriers and over-wraps. The supports must be able to keep the work stable within the crate while touching as little of the object as possible in order to prevent undue stress. There are often instructions written on the boxes and crates that detail how to unpack and unload the object safely step by step. Many of the objects going to this venue are old and extremely fragile by design; beads fall off easily, animal hide tears, basketry fibers crumble. Crate building is an art and these packers certainly have their work cut out for them!


Susi Nuss ~ Basketmaker said...

Will there be baskets from the Thaw Collection in this traveling exhibit?

Eva said...

Hi Susi
My name is Eva Fognell and I am the curator of the Thaw Collection. There is one Iroquois ash splint basket in the exhibit as well as basketry from the Arctic, Northwest coast, California and the Great Basin areas.

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