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The In-Patient Ward

At any given time, roughly 5% of the IMA’s permanent collection is on display in our galleries or at other institutions on loan. This means the remaining 95% of the collection is tucked away in our on-site storage. But that 95% doesn’t just idly sit there. A portion of it is moved and managed by the IMA’s Registration, Packing, and Storage Departments.

The IMA has roughly 20,000 square feet of space dedicated solely to the storage of its encyclopedic collection. About 4,000 square feet accommodates our prints and drawings collection. The remaining 16,000 is for paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, textiles and more. 16,000 square feet of space may sound like a lot of room, but for a collection of over 55,000 objects, every inch must be utilized.

The IMA has taken measures to maximize its storage areas. One of those ways is employing high-density storage technology like the kind we have for our textile and painting collections. The textile collection is housed in custom-made Delta Design cabinets, which store the collection according to the needs of each individual piece. Is it a carpet that needs to be rolled? Is it a dress that needs to be hung? These cabinets move along tracks that allow the user to have access to the collection one aisle at a time.

Here is a video showing how the storage system works:

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Ah, we meet again…

Ever wondered what happens to your favorite exhibition after it closes at the IMA?

Sometimes artwork and objects are dispersed back to the lenders who own them.  Other times, exhibitions travel on to another institution for display.  This was the case with European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century. Remember it? A portion of this IMA-organized exhibition is now on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

High Museum of Art

Often, when the IMA sends an exhibition to another institution, our registrars, curators and/or conservators accompany the artwork to the borrowing institution so that we may oversee the installation.  Associate Registrar Brittany Minton, Conservator Richard McCoy and I were lucky enough to travel to Atlanta to work with the High Museum to make a second showing of European Design a reality.

Traveling an exhibition is always a fun and challenging experience.  You are in an unfamiliar gallery space working with staff you’ve just met.  You have a set amount of time to get a show completely installed before you head for home.  In this case, it meant moving crates, unpacking over 250 objects, inspecting them individually to ensure they traveled safely, and installing them in their exhibition locations…..all within two weeks.

Here’s a quick overview of exhibition installation:

1. Unpacking

    Euro Design travel crate

    Brittany and High Chief Preparator Cayse discuss unpacking Tord Boontje’s Night Blossom from its crate

    Each crate is carefully unpacked.  Traveling artwork requires specialized packing which helps each object withstand the stress of travel.  Each container is designed specifically for the object that it holds.  Many thanks go out to IMA’s amazing packing and crating team: Rob Waddle, John Ross, Jesse Speight, and Jim Bayse.  I may be partial, but I think they create some of the most thoughtful art packing.

    For example, here’s how Philipe Starck’s Bedside Gun was packed:

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    A Small Green Victory

    After a long journey to Indianapolis, Atelier Van Lieshout’s Funky Bones benches arrived last week and were unloaded on the grounds of 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park.

    Last month, 22 benches were packed in a 40 foot ocean-going freight container at the artist’s studio in Rotterdam. After an Atlantic ocean crossing, U.S. customs clearance, and a few truck trips, the container arrived at the park.

    IMA staff assembled on the morning of arrival ready to unload and unpack. We opened the container to find each bench thoughtfully packed and placed within the container. As is typical with artwork in transit, extra materials were used to pad and protect each piece. However, given the size of the work, these “extra materials” amounted to a huge pile of Styrofoam.

    Feeling a little guilty about leaving the Styrofoam in a dumpster for trash pickup, I began to ask coworkers if they knew of any places in Indy where we could take the foam to be recycled. Sure enough, just up the road from the IMA, we found exactly what we were looking for. We threw the first of two loads into an IMA Horticulture dump truck and headed to our destination.  Read the rest of this entry »


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