Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reinstallation & Reinterpretation

The Works-On-Paper Gallery, 2nd floor
Photography by Henriette Kets de Vries

Summers at the Smith College Museum of Art are usually tranquil, but this summer we've been busy with Phase I of one huge project: the Reinstallation and Reinterpretation of the permanent collection! It all started when our director and chief curator, Jessica Nicoll, decided that the Museum's walls needed a fresh coat of paint (after all, it had been over ten years since the opening of the new building). As all the art would need to come down from the walls anyway, she realized that it was a great chance to look at the collection in a new light.

For the past two years, we've been discussing and planning just how to do that. It's a two-part process: this summer, we focused on the second and third floor galleries, where we house works spanning ancient Egypt through eighteenth-century Europe. Next summer we'll renovate the lower level and first floor of the Museum.

Aprile Gallant, Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, hangs a work with Stephanie Sullivan, Assistant Preparator
Photography by Henriette Kets de Vries

For those of us in the Cunningham Center, the Reinstallation is an opportunity to bring even more prints, drawings and photographs out to the public. On the second floor, in the works-on-paper gallery, we will have a show about the origins of the Museum's paper collection, with art from professors, alumnae, students, clubs, and everyone else who planted the seeds of the Cunningham Center.

Photography by Henriette Kets de Vries

Photography by Henriette Kets de Vries

Displaying paper can be tricky: too much light damages photographs, prints and drawings relatively quickly, so these works cannot be in the galleries as long as a painting or a statue. Limiting their exposure to light is essential.

Still, we wanted to bring even more artworks on paper into the permanent galleries. Our solution: works-on-paper cabinets with drawers, so that visitors can open and see the art themselves.

A Works-On-Paper cabinet on the second floor

The art in the cabinets will build on the ideas and themes of nearby art on the walls on the second and third floors. They will change once or twice a year, so even more paper-based objects can be seen by visitors.

The second and third floors will both be open to the public tomorrow, September 12th. We can't wait for you to see it yourself, and we look invite you to share your comments via the new Visitor Survey area on the second floor!

Read more about the Reinstallation project on the Grécourt Gate, news and events for the Smith College community: Gallery Redesign at Smith College Museum of Art Puts Collection in a 'New Light'

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