The Importance of Volunteers: Installing the High School Show

So what happens when installing an exhibition?

Every show is different. It often depends on the theme, media, sizes, and number of pieces. With the High School Student Show, there was an overwhelmingly large selection of artworks to exhibit. Libby (the Executive Director) and Jessica (Curatorial Assistant) would have been working some late nights if it weren’t for the volunteers who came out to help. Here was our rough timeline:

  • With the help of our super volunteer Rebecca, we moved all of the works from their temporary storage location into the Marsh, Reiners, Schmidt, and Cox galleries. With all of the works out, we were able to group the 2-D works together in a way that would be most aesthetically pleasing. (3-D works were placed in the Reiners)
  • Once the paintings were in a good arrangement, the measuring began. Each painting must be measured – height, width, and the distance from the top of the frame to the wire. These measurements are important in determining where to put the nails in the wall. (Eye level is, on average, 60 inches, and thus, the center of a painting must be at the 60 inches mark. The math formula is: height divided by 2 minus the wire height, plus 60. And you thought artists didn’t need to use math!) Our volunteer Patrick helped with the measuring and applying those measurements to the formula for where the nails would go (a confusing task the first few runs).
  • After all the paintings had their measurements, we were ready to mark the places the nails go and start hammering away. Jessica’s brother Tim was in town from Oklahoma and was “invited” to help with the lifting and hanging (aren’t little brothers great?). The first time to put a nail in a gallery wall can be a little intimidating, but once you start, it’s quite addictive!

The last remaining steps are tedious, but not too difficult. The paintings are straightened using levels, the gallery lights are arranged with the help of a 13-foot ladder and lots of staring into blinding lights, old holes are patched and painted, and labels are put up.

For the High School Show, it was a marathon. We normally have at least 2 solid weeks to install, but this time one of those weeks was Spring Break. We were also in a hurry to install for the jurying to take place the day before the opening reception, so labels were needed earlier than usual.

Our next show, the SWIC Student Show, should be interesting as well, since we are expecting quite a few entries and  lots of big pieces.

This entry isn’t meant to be a shameless plug for volunteering, but if any of this sounds like fun, we’d love to have you volunteer! Just stop by, give us a call, email us, or shoot us a message on Facebook.


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