We are currently in deinstallation mode and we are surrounded by crates, preparators, shippers, and lots of paperwork to make sure the "children" get to their respective destination safely. Deinstallation is always quicker than installation, in part, because we are familiar with the way the objects were packed, how they fit in the crates, orientation, and other particulars important to their safety.
If you have never seen a fine art shipping crate, it is a level of carpentry and artistry of its own and we have our own laundry list about what constitutes a good one. We appreciate having feet on the base--short leg blocks on each corner that are a little higher than the bottom of the crate, and it also nice to have a wood bar across each end of the crate to serve as a handle. These features make moving things much easier. Even the hardware makes a difference--large bolts with washers and metal plates or locks make the crates seal properly. Crates are custom made to protect the art from abrasions or breakage, but also ward off damp conditions, vibration, and shifts while they are being moved. Foamcore, styrofoam, Tyvek (a DuPont product that is a non woven product consisting of spun bond olefin fiber) are all part of the interior architecture. It is not part of my job to know the chemical breakdown of these products, but it is helpful to know why or how to use them.
We follow a protocol for deinstalling exhibitions. Each work is analyzed to assure they are in the same condition in which they arrived and those observations are noted in the "Condition Report Book." (The next venue that receives the exhibition also goes through this same process when the art arrives and before it departs).
If the crates have not been kept in climate controlled storage, they are usually brought into the gallery at least 24 hours before they are packed in order to "acclimate"--that is, come to the gallery temperature. This allows the works of art to go into their containers without any kind of temperature shock, which can damage the art. The works are then wrapped to protect the frame, paint surface, glazing, etc. and then placed in their allocated slot in the crate. Each work is checked off of the master list as it is placed in the crate and once the crate is completely loaded, the crate is sealed and marked.
When the fine art shippers arrive--special shippers dedicated to moving works of decorative or fine art-- their trucks are climate controlled, but also have compensations for vibration and shock, and the necessary dollies, lifts, straps and other hardware to move the crates and keep them in place during transport. The crates have an orientation for their direction, be it upright or horizontal, and that orientation is maintained throughout the process of loading and shipping. Fine art shippers are an amazing professional team who do more than move crates and drive trucks. Their knowledge about crate construction, handling works of art, getting in and out of loading docks, and coming up with creative solutions for difficult doorways, surfaces, etc. is impressive.
Today we have put our Venetian prints on the road and we are preparing the walls and retrieving hardware for our next exhibition which opens January 10, 2014. I hope you will take the time to see the new exhibition titled, Chasing the Moment: Works from Annapolis Senior High. This selective exhibition is comprised of works from students in Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate Program, Honors, and other art programs. Our mission is to provide the students with the experience of having their works hung in a museum space, complete with climate control, framing, metered lights and everything else we do for our standard exhibitions. We are so pleased to have the support from the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County for this event.
Best wishes for the holiday season and hope to see you January 10-19 for the students work.
Lucinda Dukes Edinberg