Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lawrence After School Collectors Clubs

Excitement about collecting this year inspired two Lawrence fourth grade After School Collectors Clubs, organized by Mary Guerrero at the Henry K. Oliver School and Christine Jee at the Robert Frost School. These collaborating after school groups explored personal collections, art and historical collections, and Lawrence collections. What can we learn about a community based on its collections? How would you convey information to and about your community using the collecting and arranging of objects and text?

I wanted to make something.
I wanted to show it to the world.

In order to concretize these explorations and expand their vision to include community resources students, family members, and school administrators visited the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) and Lawrence Heritage State Park (LHSP).

How do the walls look different in this gallery?
It looks like a landscape!
I didn’t even notice that!
Maybe it came from an area with a lot of mountains.

At the MFA, students investigated what can be learned about the museum, its collections, and what ideas the museum is trying to communicate based on the ways in which objects and exhibitions are curated.

How do these works interact?
They’re looking at each other!

The students also met David Meehan, retired art teacher from Lawrence High School, who talked with them about the White Fund paintings, owned by Lawrence and housed at the MFA.

Downstairs is like a city, outside of the buildings.
Upstairs is inside a house, it has the loom, and it has Essex Street.

At LHSP, the students met Jim Beauchesne, interim director and interpreter, and viewed collections of objects that share information about and histories of their city. They then used these ideas to inspire photographing and collecting on walks around Essex Street and the canal.

What I learned is that getting ready for an exhibit is hard.

The students have created, curated, and installed an exhibition at LHSP detailing their explorations, ideas, connections, personal collections, and collections that speak to their ideas and knowledge about their community. On exhibit are collections from rocks to Pokemon cards, “silly bands” created from alternative materials in shapes that symbolize Lawrence, weavings that display a connection with Lawrence’s textile history, and the students’ own written and photographic documentation of their work.

Their exhibition was recognized in a recent article in the Eagle Tribune, which can be read online by clicking here.

The Collectors Club exhibition, which opened on June 9th on the 3rd floor of LHSP, will be on view through mid-August and is free and open to the public, as are the two floors of historical collections in LHSP’s exhibitions spaces.

Posted by:

Jamie Kaplowitz
Education Fellow

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Big Move, Part II

Moving back into a museum that had been emptied for renovation and expansion is not as simple as calling your local moving company and shifting your computer from one desk to another. There is much more to do!

In addition to shifting the staff and the contents of their offices, which are actually fairly straight-forward to move, there are hundreds of boxes of art library books, archival material (see left and below), and supplies. With the behind-the-scenes parts of the museum now completely different from how they were when we left, everything from hooks to hang artwork and boxes of copy paper, to electric lifts and display cases, cannot simply go where it was before. Archival files will need to be reorganized and rehoused to fit onto our new mobile storage system. Art library books, once spread on shelves in three different areas, need to be rearranged to fit in our new centralized library area. Each printer and photocopier needs a new spot, every piece of installation hardware needs a new place to live, and making sure every phone has a jack to plug into takes time and an immense amount of patience. Just getting a new cash register for the museum shop and training the front staff to use it requires more coordination than one would initially think!

Once everything is in place, we also need to make sure everything works. There are the big-picture items, such as our security and climate systems, which have gone through rigorous testing over the last few months, but simple things, such as: is every network jack we need live, or does the correct light come on when you flip the switch, or do the doors to the bathroom stalls latch properly? Those will be the maddening things that we'll be sorting out over the next few months.

Rest assured, everything will be ready to go the day we reopen! Stay tuned for Part III for our Big Move series, where we discuss yet another facelift, this one electronic, that the Addison will soon receive.

Posted by:

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives