Today was my first day being a “curator-in-training” at the Nature in Art Museum in Gloucester. Although the day was busy and filled with lots of information, everyone on staff was extremely welcoming, making me feel like I was already a part of their family.
My day started off by being shown into my office! It is where the museum is housing a small library that is being catalogued at the moment, but I have a computer and a beautiful view of the grounds. (pictured). Once I settled in, I was briefed about the upcoming exhibit “Into the Blue.” As the title suggests, every artwork in the exhibition will be predominantly the colour blue. However, Nature in Art needs to find more artworks for the exhibition, so, they need to talk to collectors. This process is rather strenuous for the curator because they need to find collectors that are willing to loan out their art for the exhibition. This is where Vastari comes in. Now I know what all my art historian friends are thinking… “Isn’t Vasari the name of the renowned Italian artist in the 16th, most famous today for his Encyclopaedia of Artistic Biographies, making him the first art historian?” The answer is (I thought rather surprisingly), No. This is VasTari, an international online service provider that connects curators to collectors to collaborate on exhibition loans. You can also promote your own exhibitions, find exhibitions for your venue, promote your collection, and find objects for your exhibition. It is an incredible resource for curators to have, and one that I was very fortunate to learn about on my first day. So for the next two hours, I looked through Vastari’s fine art collection to find blue works that would fit into Nature in Arts Exhibition. However, this task proved more difficult than I initially thought, my keywords used in the search becoming increasingly more juvenile and uncreative, resulting in a Thesaurus on my lap looking up synonyms for the words “nature”, “landscape”, and “animals”. In the end, I found about 20 different artworks that could fit into the exhibition, and most importantly, I got a feel for the website.
After this online debacle, I was shown how the museum monitors their rooms/galleries and storage spaces to the correct temperature to protect their artwork. These temperature readings are kept on little black thermometers with a USB port attached to the end of them. Every month an employee plugs them into a computer to see how each room’s temperature and humidity are doing. They make sure it hasn’t gotten too hot or too cold, and they log the data into their systems. When asking for a loan for a piece of artwork, the museum needs to show this data to ensure the collector that the proper conditions have been put in place to house their work so it will not be ruined. Every certified museum needs evidence of this to be able to house objects. I was asked to take over this task every month.
Lastly, I was asked to take pictures and write a review of the exhibition Nature in Art has on now, “Wildlife Photographer of the Year”. I have to be candid and say that it was one of the best exhibits I’ve been to in a long while. If interested, you can find it on the Nature in Art website.
All in all, a very successful first day (I think, we will see what my superiors actually think when reading this account). I cannot wait to keep people posted on my year as a curator-in-training with Nature in Art.