Sunday, April 6, 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE GALLERY

I haven't written a blog entry for several days, but it's totally not my fault.  It's the fault of my Chief Research Assistant, Mom.  She keeps coming up with flimsy excuses why she can't help me with the blog, and those excuses are things like she's too busy going to work, she's too tired when she comes home from work, she's too sleepy in the evenings and wants to go to bed early, and stuff like that.  Then, when she finally took some pictures for me to use in my blog, they were of things like the inside of closets at the Nelson Art Gallery, where she works.  I mean, really, who wants to see something like that?  But sometimes a girl just has to use the material that's available, and so that's what I'm going to do.


Okay, so first you need to know that the original museum was built between 1930 and 1933, in the Neoclassic style.  Not that you can tell anything about Neoclassicism by looking in the closets, but I'm just trying to explain why they look so old and creepy inside.  This first one has a sink and some cleaning equipment in it that the maintenance people use.  Mom is glad she doesn't have to mop and wax the floor because she hates doing stuff like that.  The only reason Mom got a assigned a key to this closet was because of the fire extinguisher.  This way, if the building catches on fire, Mom can save it from burning down by spraying the fire with the extinguisher.  There are lots of these closets with sinks and cleaning equipment.  Sometimes there are also boxes of pamphlets and pencils, if those are needed in that gallery.


Okay, here's something much creepier than the sink closet.  This door opens to a little passage that goes behind some display cases in the Bernap Collection of English Pottery.  On the left, you can see the backs of the cases, and on both sides, you can see ductwork.  Up above, there is a catwalk that is maybe used to get to the heating and air-conditioning vents or else to the lights.  Mom could not figure out if the pottery is put into the cases from the front or from the back, but probably it's from the front because there's a little keyhole to unlock each case from the gallery side.


The Bloch Building is much more modern because it was only opened in 2007.  So the closets there look bright and clean and well-lighted.


The ceilings of the closets are high, and there's a hole where you can crawl through to get up into the ceiling space.  Bloch Building closets also have fire extinguishers and waste baskets, and some of them have paper towels, toilet paper, and boxes full of brochures.


In the corner of some galleries, there is a funny-looking thing like this, and sometimes people ask Mom what it is.  Or sometimes they ask if it is a seismometer to measure earthquakes.  Which it isn't.  What it really does is measure the temperature and humidity in the gallery.  A man comes around almost every day and opens each box and enters the data into a little digital thing that he carries around.  He does not adjust the temperature or humidity.  He only records it, and then somebody else is in charge of adjusting it.


This is the food preparation area.  Mom has never been in there, but she can look in from the hallway when she's going from the Security Staff area to the rest of the gallery.  Usually, you can figure out by smell at least one dish that will be served for lunch in the cafeteria that day.  In this same hallway, there are doorways to Art Conservation and to the place where they build display stands and stuff like that.  But those doors are always closed, and Mom's card won't open them because it's not her job to go in there, even though she thinks it would be really interesting.


On Friday, something bad happened in one of the galleries Mom was guarding.  What happened was that one of the paintings got damaged because a kid in a school group ran up and rammed his hand into it.  This made a dent which you can sort of see in the photo, in the part where there are lots of narrow, close-together stripes.  Mom was at lunch when this bad thing happened.  Laura, the guard who was watching Mom's gallery for her, saw the kid damage the painting, but it happened so fast that she couldn't stop it.  Laura gave the kids a serious talking-to, and she called a supervisor.  He came with a curator to look at the damage, and the curator said she didn't think it could be fixed.


So Mom heard all about this incident when she got back from lunch.  Later on, two women and a man came with a cart to take the painting away.  The man put up a sign that said the object was temporarily removed.  Mom thought he might be a conservator, and she asked him if the painting could be repaired, and he said, "Oh, sure."  After which, Mom felt better because she likes that painting quite a bit.  We have no idea why it's called Cement Mixer, but at least that's a more interesting name than something like No. 7 or Untitled.


It's hard to realize how big the painting really is until it's not there, and you are just looking at an empty space on the wall.   The painting wouldn't even fit on a wall in our house, which is why it's a good thing it's in the art gallery instead of here.  Not to mention that the cats might decide the canvas would make a good scratching post!


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