Curating at the Lilly: Week Eight

After careful reflection, our internship supervisor has decided I should take over the intern exhibit by myself while my co-intern works on another project. I think this decision is for the best. The intern exhibit is important, but the Lilly’s priorities are changing as preparations for the renovation gear up. My co-intern’s personality and abilities are well-suited to another project that will help with this process. Working in special collections, especially at this moment in the Lilly’s history, requires a certain amount of flexibility.

Luckily, I’m fairly confident in my ability to adapt to this situation. I purposefully brainstormed more items to include in the exhibit than could fit in all five cases, much less (what used to be) my half of the exhibit, so I could keep my options open. This strategy has paid off. I spent this week measuring the items in my favorite chains and sketching them on grids scaled to the size of the cases. I was delighted to find it was relatively easy to fill the cases. I still need to make a few adjustments, but most of the exhibit is locked in place.

Measuring the items also forced me to think about another important aspect of exhibition: item display. As I measured each item, I thought about such things as whether a book ought to be open or closed, whether a multivolume work should be represented with a single or multiple volumes, and the best pages to display. Such decisions impacted the way I measured each item and positioned it on the grid. It seems so challenging to exhibit objects such as books (as opposed to a sculpture or painting) because by necessity of the medium, you have to offer the viewer a very limited snapshot of the wealth of visual and intellectual knowledge contained within. Acknowledging this limitation, I hope I make interesting/worthwhile choices!

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