Friday, December 3, 2010

Shipping Hicks

Our Sheila Hicks: 50 Years exhibition is up now for all to see. But our work with it is far from over.

The show will be travelling to two more venues: the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (March 25, 2011-August 7, 2011), and the Mint Museum of Craft + Design in Charlotte, North Carolina (October 1, 2011-January 29, 2012). Just as it was my job to arrange the shipment of all the objects from the show's twenty-five lenders to the Addison, it's my job to figure out how to get the show to each of the venues, and then disperse its objects at the end of the tour back to their owners. This is not an easy task.

For example, anyone visiting the exhibition will note that while many of the objects are small, there are some that are rather large. The crates used for shipping these objects had to be even larger. The largest crate we received measures six feet high by three feet deep by fifteen feet long, about two feet shorter than a Cadillac Escalade (see left, with yours truly pictured for scale). Granted, the crate weighed less than the car, but it was too large to move through our galleries. We technically could fit it on our elevator with about an inch to spare, but there was not enough space outside the elevator doors to move it in or out. We ended up unpacking it inside our loading dock area and carefully lugging each of its object's twenty-three components up two floors to the galleries. Very complex logistics were required to ship this here from Europe. Due to the schedule of flights with cargo holds large enough to accommodate it, the crate had to be delivered to the museum one morning at 1:30AM. I was one of the poor souls who was on site to receive it, but that was nothing compared to the long journey the courier who travelled with it had to suffer!

Working with a fine arts shipper, I'll figure out how we'll get this, and the rest of the crates, to the next venues. How many trucks will we need? How large? Can any of the crates be stacked? Will there be enough space to ship the show's cases and pedestals? And, of course, can the venues accommodate large trucks at their loading docks and can we maneuver the large crates around their galleries?

Sometimes, these questions are only finally answered at the end of the show's run, many times through trial, and hopefully, very little error. But the more we can figure out in the advance, the smoother the shipments and installations go. And that is what is best for the art!

Posted by:

James M. Sousa
Associate Registrar for Collections and Archives