Today’s post was prepared by Hannah Brown, Crystal Bridges’ Membership Program Assistant
Your Crystal Bridges Membership team is kicking off a new series especially for Members! Member Scoops provide an opportunity to gain behind-the-scenes knowledge from various Museum staff members on special topics. We are planning to offer six Member Scoops in 2017 and expanding to monthly Scoops in 2018. Some topics of interest include: interpreting sensitive material in art (for example: approaching nude, racially driven, or otherwise controversial content); transporting delicate artwork and preserving it; the gallery transition between exhibitions; artwork that isn’t currently on view; creating amazing events and bringing celebrity-status artists and speakers to the Museum. You want to know how we do it all and we’re ready to spill.
The first Member Scoop, Dance & Design, was on January 11. We heard an incredible presentation and received a special gallery tour from two amazing ladies: Crystal Bridges’ Interpretations Manager Samantha Sigmon and Exhibition Designer Jessi Mueller. Samantha and Jessi talked about two main topics: designing interpretive tools to help meet the goals of educating and engaging guests, as well as designing an exhibition to create the ideal fit and flow to enhance the guest experience. They did a combination presentation and walk-through of The Art of American Dance exhibition, so we could use what we learned in the presentation to view the gallery through new lenses during the tour.
If you’re like me, you may associate the term curator solely with art exhibitions or galleries. In all honesty, I majored in studio art and art history in college and interned with the head curator of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, but until I began my career at Crystal Bridges and started meeting with other departments, I 100% believed that every decision involved in creating an exhibition was made by the curator. This is why you (and I) need to get the Scoop! In fact, there are an amazing array of professionals in a host of positions who all contribute to making Crystal Bridges an incredible experience with unbelievable exhibitions. I guess the curators shouldn’t be expected to do everything. (Although we will hear from them sometime this year!)
If you asked me two weeks ago (before I attended this Member Scoop), I’d say creating an exhibition is similar to picking out an outfit. I assumed you look in a closet full of “clothes” (artworks) and start piecing together a look. All black is an easy go-to in the Museum world, or you can survey the collection of “hip & modern,” “last season,” or “worn out, but sentimental” clothing options—try them on, pair them up, take them off, throw them all over the room, and begin again. But as it turns out, that is a terrible analogy. Thankfully, Samantha and Jessi were able to shed some light on the process.
First, you have to determine your “Big Idea,” theme, and goals. Then you have to go “shopping” and assemble (choose from your own collection, or borrow from other museums) a group of artworks. Next you research, write, measure, lay things out in Google Sketch Up, choose color schemes, hire translators…the list goes on! Needless to say, I learned more about the other side of the Museum from this Scoop. Let’s just pray they never let your Membership team design an exhibition!
If you’re interested in getting in on the next Scoop, mark your calendar for the next Member Scoop on March 9: Interpretive Sensitivity with Curatorial Assistant Alison Demorotski and Interpretations Manager Samantha Sigmon.
Something specific behind the scenes at the Museum you’d like to learn about? I encourage you to email suggestions for Scoop topics to [email protected].
Member Scoops are just one of the many benefits offered to our Crystal Bridges Members. If you’re interested in attending this program, but haven’t made the plunge yet—become a Member today and support the arts, programs, and wonderful opportunities Crystal Bridges provides! You can learn more about Member benefits and join online at https://crystalbridges.org/membership/, by calling the Member Priority Line at 479.418.5728, or by visiting a friendly Guest Services associate in the Museum’s main lobby.