We live in the 21st century, and yet, to a vast majority, the definition of a Museum hasn’t changed much over the years; it is still somewhat on lines of a repository or cabinets of curiosity. While visitors often frequent Museums, they aren't really aware of the complexities of Museum functioning, and the efforts that go into making a Museum what it is. They may admire and breathe in the art but do they go beyond, and connect with the creators of these spaces or the multitude of tasks that they engage with? If this is you; wondering what lies beyond perfect displays, then continue reading!
This online exhibition breaks it down for you! It answers questions that you may have had while visiting an art gallery or a Museum! For example,what kind of responsibility does a Museum have and towards whom?
Museums go beyond the periphery from which they operate; functioning and establishing a connect with not just this generation but with the generations to come. It goes way past the ideas of nation and state, and on to a global platform! But how do they really do it?
How do Museums work with their collections; curating spaces, educational activities to social media content; how do they layer out information to the audiences?
This exhibition attempts to dust away misconceptions, and reveal well kept secrets of the Museum world! If you are looking to consciously make a career out of Museums, then this will sum it up for you!
A primary function of a Museum is to collect, and each does it differently. What Museums must ensure is that if they are engaging in this process, are they able to provide for the artefact; in terms of display and storage space, necessary care and treatment, finance etc. This evaluation should determine whether or not the Museum should progress towards the next step of acquisition and adding to the existing collection.
Unmonitored, cluttered storages should desperately be revamped.
In the right practice, nothing would enter or leave the Museum premises without being accounted for; especially if it concerns artwork, that bear intrinsic value! When a Museum decides to add to its collection, it would legally ensure the transfer of ownership. It is expected that all necessary background details such as provenance, general descriptions etc. are known and added to the inventory. This serves as an entry card for an artefact to enter the premises.
Establishing an identity for the artefacts in the collection is a very crucial step. At times, it is like filling in the missing pieces of a jigsaw. Through various sources, details such as the material, date, location, measurement etc. are found out and documented through physical and photographic means. This process sets the stage for several of the tasks that are to be met.
Doubling up as a doctor, a conservator will make all attempts to understand the artefact at hand. While most Museums house a mixed collection; relevant expertise is the norm. The individual artefacts need to be assessed; the medium, condition, and several other factors would determine the treatment to be awarded. The sole aim is to enhance the life of the artefacts, and as such the required preventive, curative and restorative steps need to be taken. Museums should allocate spaces for creation of laboratories dedicated to the various type of collections.
The Arms and Armour collection will perhaps be the area with the maximum variety in mediums; wood, ivory, bone, animal hide, semiprecious stones, gold, and majorly, a base metal. After careful assessment and treatment, a protective coating is applied onto the treated metal to prevent further rusting.
Paper is one of the most fragile mediums to possess or work with; it is known to deteriorate over time, and yet, since its invention, it has been progressively used as a medium to document. Paintings on paper, books, manuscripts, photographs, etc. form a very important part of collections across the globe, and need to be cared for.
Textiles have always fascinated people; the rich vibrant colours, ornamentation, design and the personal association with the concerned persons, makes them oh so interesting! Even more so if they are royal textiles! Several stages of treatment are awarded, based on the requirement.
The Conservator can be seen micro vaccum cleaning the textile in order to remove microbial infestations and dust particles.
For the security and safety of collections, it is necessary that the buildings in themselves that house these works of art are structurally sound. Museums housed within heritage structures have an additional responsibility of ensuring the care and upkeep of the structure. While certain spaces within these heritage buildings are often refurbished to hold exhibitions, it must be done without interfering with the original structure
Museums are dynamic learning spaces; with a constant quest to make new discoveries about the collection. Learning is for everyone; the in-house team, visiting researchers and scholars, and even visitors! The research, on part of the Museum team, using various primary and secondary sources, is layered out to its audiences; in exhibitions, publications, learning aids and interactives, social media content and the like, with an understanding of who is the audience, what are their preferences and level of understanding, etc.
Museums are no longer storehouses of works of art; they are spaces that are open and accessible to the public. Exhibitions provide a platform to engage the visitors. Every object has its own story that it seeks to narrate to those visiting; a little bit of human touch aids in just that! The curatorial team weaves this story, organizes the display and creates an experience, for its visitors. Exhibitions, ideally, should be curated keeping in mind the varied types of visitors for there must be something for everybody.
There is a limit as to how much one can or should put out in an exhibition. Nonetheless, certain segments of your audience would be left wanting more content. Museum research further branches out in the form of publications and exhibition catalogues. Apart from being excellent learning resources, they act as souvenirs that visitors can take back with them.
Not everyone can come to a Museum, and for some, a Museum would be the last on the list of recreational places to visit! If not make active audiences out of potential visitors, a Museum should nonetheless reach out and engage with them. This can be done via mobile exhibitions, lectures, performances, demonstrations, storytelling, and other educational activities. For those visiting, similar exciting packages and experiences should be created.
The Museum community is not a very large one; it is important to have each other’s backs, and engage in joint ventures. Collaborative efforts on part of Museums enable art and learning to reach newer audiences, beyond the regular reach, and past institutional and geographical boundaries.
Collaborations, in the sense of travelling exhibitions involve a great deal of safety and security measures to be looked into, during packaging and transit.
A Museum never sleeps; not with priceless art in its care! If not the team of security officers, ensuring safety of the artworks at all times, the Museum’s monitoring devices are constantly at it! Sensors and detectors to monitor temperature, relative humidity, fire, smoke, motion, CCTV cameras, burglar alarms, etc. are some of the devices that are utilized. Dedicated checking of storages and displays should however be brought into practice.