So, a bit of shameless self-promotion…
We just finished our latest exhibition, , and it got me to thinking about the rhythms of this work. We’ve been busting our butts to this show completed, and this morning was the staff walkthrough. And even though it’s quite small by our standards – 1,000 sq ft. – it had all of what I think of as the hallmarks of a good museum exhibition project, There were:
- the long, long days in the gallery,
- the shared vocabulary of in-jokes that developed as a result of the above,
- the period when it looked like we might open on time,
- the period when it was obvious we’d never open on time,
- the thing that should’ve been simple, but seemed like it’d never get done,
- somebody bleeding,
- the “Uh-oh…” moment,
- the terrible agony of making decisions based entirely on getting it done on time, and
- the little details that nobody but the team would notice that took extra precious time to include, but showed that commitment to quality that makes me glad to come to work every morning.
Pictures follow, courtesy of Emily Roose, graphic designer extraordinaire.
So, we stood around and told our colleagues about what we were trying to do, what we liked, what we wished we could’ve changed given more time/money/sleep/bodies, and it was lovely. There is nothing like an opening, even an unofficial one.
And it’s done. It belongs to the visitors, not us.
I went up to the gallery later in the day, and as I always do, I watched the first visitors to the exhibition, trying to see what they liked, what they gravitated to, what they avoided. And mostly said my goodbyes to this thing as-yet-unmade, and my hellos to our latest exhibition, and the punch list of things needing to be fixed or corrected.
Over the years, I’ve had many different responses to shows I’ve worked on. There have been ones I avoided, ones I couldn’t stay away from for love or money, ones that have made me happy, ones that have left me wishing I could’ve _______. And almost always a sort of post-partum depression, the spectre of long hours at my desk, catching up on emails and paperwork, and meetings I can’t duck “because I’m in the gallery.”
What do you do after the show opens? And why?