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Art Handling with Kelly

Published June 9, 2020

Kelly Hendrickson is an art preparator at MoFA. As the university has eased restrictions about working on campus, she’s been able to go in a few days a week to catch up on the physical work that needs to happen at the museum.

My job as an art handler and exhibition designer was a little tricky to tackle remotely and I’m very glad to

Clean workroom

New and improved workroom!

be one of the first back in the museum on a regular basis. It is very quiet here. Wayne Vonada, our other handler, and I are the only ones working on-site, and don’t worry, it’s easy for us to practice good social distancing, because it feels like we’re the only two in the entire Fine Arts Building. We occasionally see the cleaning crew or someone from facilities maintenance, but that’s about it.

While we don’t have any exhibitions creeping up on us, I’ve been taking this time to get some things checked off my list that will help us better our workflow.

When I started here in September, I began a reorganization overhaul of the MoFA workshop in order to improve functionality, and due to our continued closure to the public, it’s finally finished! Everything has a home and we have distinct workstations.

Back in November the Permanent Collection suffered from a broken pipe that leaked water on the floor of the collection. Luckily, no artwork was damaged but our shelving was impacted, and I’ve been heading up our Permanent Collection storage rebuild. I’ve finally had time to finish this project and we even have some extra shelf space now.

Reorganized Storage

New Storage in the Permanent Collection!

I’ve been working with Jean, our Collections Manager, to address some issues with pieces in the Permanent Collection. I’ve been doing a lot of reframing and replacing of materials with archival options. Through this process we found a painting on the back of a different painting; we haven’t gotten a chance to research it yet but it’s definitely a neat find.

Boy with Orange

“Boy with Orange” with a surprise!

Typically, our installation schedule ebbs and flows so it’s a nice change of pace for us to be able to consistently work on behind-the-scenes projects without the stress of a forthcoming exhibition. I’ve been able to do all my favorite types of things: organize, clean-up, make repairs, etc. without the stresses of trying to work around visitor hours or quick deadlines. Even if the world isn’t very stress-free right now, at least the work here is. I’d like to leave you with a few dramatic and somber photos I took of the museum without work in it.

Empty museum

Empty museum