An outsider’s view of Museum of Brisbane
September school holidays are often made up of going to the movies, hanging out with friends, and if warm enough, heading to the beach. But for one 16 year old, school holidays included spending a week with us at Museum of Brisbane to get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in the lead up to an exhibition. We asked her to share her experience. Meet Erin…
Since I was younger, I have been fascinated with museums – whether it’s marvelling at treasures from years past or being able to interact with the artwork, they always sparked my attention. It always occurred to me that a museum wasn’t simply a space with some art and information thrown onto a wall, but rather the result of a large operation requiring the efforts of teams of people with many different skills. This week, I was given the opportunity to present an outsider’s view of many areas of Museum of Brisbane’s operations.
The curatorial staff members are responsible for sourcing content for upcoming exhibitions, which includes planning, researching and meeting with artists and experts. This week I witnessed a photo shoot for an upcoming exhibition, Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood, where we spent lots of time wearing cotton gloves handling and photographing artworks. I also learnt that the curators write labels and the text that will be featured in the exhibitions, and drafts are proof-read several times by many people before a final copy is reached.
I spent a small portion of the week with the exhibition design team, also working on Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood, while they were researching to find the perfect way to exhibit every single piece in the show. Using computer software, the designers model in 3D what the entire exhibition is going to look like. In a more practical sense, I witnessed lighting tests which help the designers and other members of the creative team to select the appropriate lighting which will not only enhance the object on display, but create the most aesthetically pleasing composition.
However, I realised that the most important part of a museum is the guests. Therefore, the customer service team are vital for enhancing the museum experience for visitors. I was able to watch members of this team give their exciting clock tower tour and take guests on an informative tour of the visually stunning City Hall. I also helped with visual merchandising and the museum store.
There were also many jobs which I didn’t get around to sampling in this short week, but it has brought me to the realisation that there is a larger body of people who work behind the scenes than most expect.