Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rules of Attraction (and Organization) or, Interning @ Fenimore Art Museum, Part 4

By Emma Porter, Curatorial Intern

I have been introduced to the realm of illustrated checklists and I am never looking back. Art museum professionals, not surprisingly, are visual learners, and these documents greatly help orient the museum professional to the works involved, the artist(s), and contexts. I was shown how to create an illustrated checklist, first in an Excel spreadsheet format, then in a Word document format. Here is a sample from the checklist for Fenimore Art Museum's William Matthew Prior Revealed: Artist and Visionary, for the 2012 season.

Mary Cary and Susan Elizabeth Johnson, 1848
William Matthew Prior
Terra Foundation

This image is under the section titled The Painting Garret – 36 Trenton Street, East Boston. Jackie Oak, of the Shelburne Museum in Vermont has organized this exhibit according to Prior’s personal life stages and periods of certain inspiration. For example, one section is about Abolitionism and another about Spiritualism.

I am currently completing an illustrated checklist for Michelle to use during her upcoming visit to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Her visit is to inform the Fenimore Art Museum’s upcoming American Impressionism exhibition. If you love American Impressionism I would encourage you to visit or just check out their online database.

Dogwood Blossoms, 1906
Williard Leroy Metcalf
Florence Griswold Museum

My illustrated checklist for American Impressionism is essentially a long series of images in order of the artist. Each artist entry begins with their personal information and details. Once these checklists are completed they serve as the founding reference document for the show.

I love organizing and greatly appreciate a good organizational system when I see one. Museum registrars and curators are champions of organizations to put it modestly. Every single work must go through the registrar. Christine Olsen is the FAM Registrar. She records every work that comes into or leaves the Museum, whether it's coming or going temporarily or permanently. Without the registrar the museum could barely operate and would be almost impossible to navigate. I sincerely enjoy compiling these lists. I get to familiarize myself with the artist and their work while letting my organizational flag fly!

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