Curating at the Lilly: Week Seven

This week, I bid farewell to Sherlock and return my attention to Bacon (Sir Francis, that is). Our intern-curated exhibit is due to be installed about mid-August, which is fast approaching! It’s time, perhaps past time, to make some final decisions about the objects that will form our chains of connection. We need to finalize the list sooner rather than later so that the Conservation Dept. has ample time to a) make sure the items can be safely exhibited and b) create cradles, straps, etc. to secure the items in place.

My brainstorming bubble map has grown considerably, but I can already see where I can narrow things down. For one thing, it is very easy to fall into Eurocentrism with a web of connections built around Englishman Sir Francis Bacon, but I do want to show interesting connections to other times and cultures. What I envision is a kind of so-called “salad bar” display. Although the connections are interesting, they are not essential to a visitor’s enjoyment. Someone may examine only one or two objects that they like without getting the overall six-degrees concept, and that’s okay. Whether our audience chooses to follow the connections or focus on a single interesting item, I want to offer them a variety of ingredients (subject matter, culture, language, format, etc.) so they can build a salad, an experience, to their liking.

Another factor that I need to consider is space. In fact, this may be one of the most significant delimiting factors for the exhibit, so I’ve begun the process of measuring the objects that form my favorite chains and plotting them on grids scaled to the size of our five cases. I’m actually quite excited to work on this visualization exercise. It feels like such a major step forward into making our exhibit a reality. I just need to remember to avoid one of the most common “rookie” mistakes: not leaving room for the labels!

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