Thursday, May 20, 2010

John Singer Sargent - one crate at a time

By Christine Olsen, Registrar

Each spring you can find the curatorial department at the Fenimore Art Museum working hard to install our blockbuster show; this year the show we are excited to share is John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women which opens on May 29th. As you may recall from my previous blogs as registrar here at the FAM, every incoming exhibition loan must have loan agreements signed, insurance coverage in place, and packing and shipping scheduled. I have been working diligently for the last 3-4 months to get loans in place from 18 different lenders – some as far away as California, Colorado and Kansas! The shipping and installation schedules always make for a hectic few weeks, but I look forward to receiving and opening each and every crate to see the works in person for the first time; photographs just never do paintings justice, and I must say that this is especially the case with this show!

As a crate arrives, we let it acclimate for 24 hours; after that we unpack the painting and I do a condition report right away to make sure nothing has changed during transit. Tracking numbers for all of the paintings ensure that they are fully documented in the database for quick reference by myself and my colleagues; I record everything about the loan in the database including information that will be helpful when it is time to return the loan such as shipping requirements, courier needs, crate sizes, and packing images. It is amazing how blurry one’s memory is about such details, especially after 9 months!

With each new exhibition season I like to think that I have learned some tricks of the trade that make my job easier, more efficient and more FUN! So far, this exhibition has been a joy to work on and I am eager to see it all come together for our opening on May 29th! We hope to see you then… or before the show closes on December 31st!

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