Hello, my name is Stephen Ast and I am the Exhibits Coordinator here at the museum. My position entails a number of different duties and responsibilities, but right now I am here to tell you about one of my main duties, which is exhibit installation.
Currently we are in the middle of installing our upcoming exhibit Postcards and Perceptions: Culture as Tourism, which opens here on February 12th. Installation of our new exhibit begins with the de-installation of our previous exhibit, The Randle/Sheffield Collection. Once all the photographs were taken down and had conditions reports done on them by the Collections teams and returned, the real work of installation was able to being. The first step for this exhibit was to completely strip the Mila-walls, this included all the black vinyl that had been on the walls for over 2 years. Mila-walls are an interlocking, modular wall system that allows us to arrange the gallery differently for each exhibit. They are fully paintable and patchable and this will be the first time since I have been here that we have been able to change the color. Currently, we are at a mid-way point in our installation. The walls were rearranged and painting is half way done, thanks to our Exhibits Manager Greg Palumbo. While he has been painting away in the gallery I have been in the lab mounting and framing all the postcards for the show.
Please keep in mind that while installation began for this show on January 19th, preparing for installation and the creation of the show began over a year ago. All artifacts, archival materials, text panels, labels and any other visual collateral that are part of the show have been picked out, inspected, designed and ordered well before installation begins. For example, I turned in all the text panels, banners and labels that I designed to our printer at the end of December to make sure they were ready with enough time to fix any problems, because no matter how much we plan there are always last minute issues. Last week we received all the printed material and it looks terrific, but there were a few minor things that needed to be changed. Luckily we planned for the extra time and will have everything in time to put it on the walls. And even to get the text panels to the printer took months of editing and design work. Overall, there is so much prep work before installation begins that every department within the museum contributes something and we would not be able to do our job with out their help, especially the Curator, Registrar, Conservator and Researcher.
From this point on there are still a number of things left to be done. The walls will be adjusted further, and then they will be painted. Following that, all cases will be moved in to the gallery, as well as all artifacts and text panels. Cases will be cleaned and filled while the two dimensional artifacts and panels are laid out and hung. These final weeks will be hectic and busy but they are the most exciting part of my job. So please, come out and enjoy our new exhibit Postcards and Perception: Culture as Tourism. I truly think it will be one of the most exciting exhibits we have ever done and I hope after you see it that you agree. Thank you.