Hammer Museum installation

Hammer Highlights 2015: Exhibition Preparation

Hammer Highlights is a blog series that features the past year's most memorable moments and stories from each of our departments.

Over the last year, we’ve had a variety of interesting and new challenges in our exhibition installations. The first one that comes to mind was the Joseph Holtzman exhibition, which involved a transformation of the gallery into a sensory environment, complete with felt walls and furniture covered with artist-made fabric. Soft colors, a giant rug, and unique lighting gave the space a warm inviting feel—a calm place to view his paintings. Even our temperature readers in the gallery were decorated by the artist, so the entire space was different from floor to ceiling. 

Another noteworthy exhibition was of the designer Thomas Heatherwick. This exhibition was jam-packed with architectural models, furniture, prototypes, and studies—many of which had moving parts. It was exciting to open up a crate and discover how dynamic a work might be, after only knowing the objects from photos and books, or assembling a piece, such as the elaborate brochure machine designed by the artist, and watching it function. Of course, tending to these works over the course of an exhibition’s run requires a unique kind of daily maintenance—perhaps adjusting a stretching table, measuring the tension in a model bridge, or loading big rolls of paper onto a machine—much more than just a light dusting.

One of the most interesting works to maintain was in the Jim Hodges exhibition, organized by the Dallas Museum of Art. In working with the artist during installation, we received instructions on how we were to maintain the work of his titled the dark gate. This work had a room with one wall made of metal spikes set in a circle. During maintenance every day, after we dusted and cleaned the room, we were to apply perfume—chosen by the artist—to the metal spikes. While patrons visiting the museum would smell this aspect of daily maintenance, they would be unaware of one other thing we were required to do daily. The artist specified that while we were to be applying the perfume to the spikes, we were also to be thinking of someone we love.

It is always interesting to see how versatile our spaces can become when artists come in to transform them. We always look forward to new surprises each year in our exhibition program, as artists often complete their ideas in the gallery as we install. It’s a creative and collaborative environment that is great to work in.

Filed under: 
Tags: hammer highlights, staff, exhibitions, registration, preparation, installation