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Seatbelts for art

Author: Alex Grace, Communications and Relationships Manager

As the long weekend stretches out ahead of us, thoughts of packing up and travelling to visit friends and family come to mind. Here at The Dowse we’re not only thinking of visiting our cousins, mums, dads, aunties and uncles, we are also thinking about the travel our exhibitions do.

Kit-Set Whanaungatanga nested in foam with duvet supports

Kit-Set Whanaungatanga nested in foam with duvet supports

MAUREEN LANDER, KIT-SET WHANAUNGATANGA, 2017. DETAIL. COURTESY OF THE DOWSE ART MUSEUM. PHOTO MARK TANTRUM

MAUREEN LANDER, KIT-SET WHANAUNGATANGA, 2017. DETAIL. COURTESY OF THE DOWSE ART MUSEUM. PHOTO MARK TANTRUM

Saying goodbye to one of our touring exhibitions

Saying goodbye to one of our touring exhibitions

Maureen Lander: Flat-Pack Whakapapa all packed up

Maureen Lander: Flat-Pack Whakapapa all packed up

Maureen Lander: Flat-Pack Whakapapa ready for pick up by the freight company

Maureen Lander: Flat-Pack Whakapapa ready for pick up by the freight company

One of our exhibitions all packed in and ready to travel

One of our exhibitions all packed in and ready to travel

Lots of instructions in one of Richard Stratton's crates

Lots of instructions in one of Richard Stratton's crates

One of Bob Gerrard's arks secured in its crate

One of Bob Gerrard's arks secured in its crate

Time to hit the road!

Time to hit the road!

One of our exhibitions Maureen Lander: Flat-Pack Whakapapa has already taken a road trip north and is on display at the Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui. This is the first stop on its tour of Aotearoa, and instead of heading home to Maureen Lander’s place; it will hit the road again and be displayed at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery in Auckland.

So how does an exhibition like Maureen’s make its way from our gallery walls to the Sarjeant and further afield? We asked our resident registrar Georgia Morgan for the inside scoop.

When we go on a road trip we pack our backpacks and suitcases with clothes, grab some snacks and jump into a car. What happens to an exhibition like Maureen’s?

In the same way that we jump into a car and put our seatbelts on to protect ourselves, we know that Maureen’s work is precious too, so you can think of it like making seatbelts for art! The packing for Flat-Pack Whakapapa has a few layers; first we made cardboard boxes to house each individual piece, and fitted the boxes with foam. Then, we cut nests into the foam in the shape of the artwork, so it sits nice and snug inside. After that we made little duvets to pad out any loose areas and tied it all down with cotton tape. Finally the boxes were fitted into a wooden crate made by our wonderful technicians. Maureen’s artworks are well protected from any bumps on the journey!

That sounds like a lot of work. When it’s all done do you jump in a car and take it away?

Sometimes we jump in our van and take exhibitions to nearby venues, but usually we use specialist art movers or freight services. If the exhibition is packed in a crate, like Flat-Pack Whakapapa, then it can go on a freight truck, which is the easiest way for us to move exhibitions long distances. If an exhibition is soft-packed (which means the artworks are still securely nested into their boxes, but the boxes aren’t in a crate) then we move the exhibition ourselves, or employ a specialist art handler to move it.

And what about the other end? How do they know what to do?

Touring exhibitions always come with a little exhibition bible – the tour manual. The manual has everything you need to know about the exhibition; how to unpack it safely, how to handle the artworks and install them correctly, information about graphic design, public programmes and education. The list goes on! A hard copy of the tour manual travels with the exhibition, but we also email the manual, design files and media photographs to the venue in advance, so they have ample time to advertise and prepare for the arrival of the show.

Thanks Georgia!

Don’t miss the chance to see this fantastic touring show. It is on display at The Sarjeant in Whanganui 26 May – 22 July 2018 and at Te Uru in Auckland 11 August – 18 November. Keep an eye out for further venues around Aotearoa.

We also have World Builder: The Bob Gerrard Story currently on display at The New Zealand Maritime Museum in Auckland until 30 September, and Richard Stratton: Living Histories opens at the Suter in Nelson tomorrow and runs until 26 August, and will then head to the Malcolm Smith Gallery in Auckland from 6 October to 24 November.

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