Behind the scenes: Staging the Civil War Exhibition

Posted on October 3, 2013 by

Coming Soon!

Mounting an exhibition about the Civil War requires strategy, leadership, and forethought—not unlike planning for an actual battle. Fortunately for us, there is no bloodshed or casualties. Here’s a quick look at our “troops” behind the scenes of the installation process of Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War.

It all starts with an empty gallery and a ladder.

It all starts with an empty gallery and a ladder.

Blue painters tape is a great way to mark the spacing for the temporary walls.

Blue painters tape is a great way to mark the spacing for the temporary walls.

A scale model of the gallery allowed Karen and Mark to “hang” the exhibition before the artifacts arrived on site.

A scale model of the gallery allowed Karen and Mark to “hang” the exhibition before the artifacts arrived on site.

Cases are installed and painted.  We let them “off-gas” and completely dry over the weekend before we even think about putting artifacts inside.

Cases are installed and painted. We let them “off-gas” and completely dry over the weekend before we even think about putting artifacts inside.

Rachel captured the artistic side of a bucket of screws that was on hand to install the walls and cases.

Rachel captured the artistic side of a bucket of screws that was on hand to install the walls and cases.

While “the guys” (Pete, Scott, John, Stoney, and Paul) were setting up the walls and cases in the gallery, I was busy with the delivery of the exhibition.

The objects arrived in clearly numbered boxes, which made it easy for me to check them off my packing checklist.  This system was also very helpful for condition reporting each object. (See last post about condition reporting )

The objects arrived in clearly numbered boxes, which made it easy for me to check them off my packing checklist. This system was also very helpful for condition reporting each object. (See last post about condition reporting )

Nothing beats an old fashioned hand-lettered colored piece of paper to designate the various exhibition sections.

Nothing beats an old fashioned hand-lettered colored piece of paper to designate the various exhibition sections.

Karen and Scott go through a bunch of artifacts that will be installed in one section.

Karen and Scott go through a bunch of artifacts that will be installed in one section.

A slightly nervous executive director wanders into the gallery and wonders (aloud) whether we are still on target to open the show on time.

A slightly nervous executive director wanders into the gallery and wonders (aloud) whether we are still on target to open the show on time.

Karen assures him that we are much further along than it looks.

Karen assures him that we are much further along than it looks.

Mounting the dramatic three-part entrance panel really sets the stage for this exhibition.

Mounting the dramatic three-part entrance panel really sets the stage for this exhibition.

An image of The Pratt Street Riots makes another dramatic statement at the opposite end of the exhibition.

An image of The Pratt Street Riots makes another dramatic statement at the opposite end of the exhibition.

Rather than drilling holes directly into the large graphic, the guys map out the weapons case with blue tape.

Rather than drilling holes directly into the large graphic, the guys map out the weapons case with blue tape.

 Since the length is the same as the wall, you can play with measurements on the floor without making unnecessary holes in the wall. Trust me, there was a lot of tweaking and re-aligning!

Since the length is the same as the wall, you can play with measurements on the floor without making unnecessary holes in the wall. Trust me, there was a lot of tweaking and re-aligning!

Once the measurements are adjusted, its time to put the exhibit on the wall.

Once the measurements are adjusted, its time to put the exhibit on the wall.

Karen uses an empty case as a temporary shelf for items that will eventually go on the wall.

Karen uses an empty case as a temporary shelf for items that will eventually go on the wall.

Many smaller artifacts will go into cases. We always keep a protective layer between the artifacts and the painted surfaces.

Many smaller artifacts will go into cases. We always keep a protective layer between the artifacts and the painted surfaces.

 The dashing Joshua Lazarus Moses and the sword of his brother, Perry Moses are mounted.

The dashing Joshua Lazarus Moses and the sword of his brother, Perry Moses are mounted.

 Paul ponders the spacing on another wall, and wonders if the carefully measured pieces will “read” to the public. Believe me, this important step can make or break the continuity of the exhibition story.

Paul ponders the spacing on another wall, and wonders if the carefully measured pieces will “read” to the public. Believe me, this important step can make or break the continuity of the exhibition story.

Can you guess what is going to be over here? Hint: It’s shaped like a triangle and has doors.

Can you guess what is going to be over here? Hint: It’s shaped like a triangle and has doors.

There is still a lot going on in the gallery, but things are really shaping up!  Come to the museum on October 13, 2013 and see the complete transformation!

There is still a lot going on in the gallery, but things are really shaping up! Come to the museum on October 13, 2013 and see the complete transformation!

JobiA blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink. To read more posts by Jobi click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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1 Comment

  1. Rett Floyd says:

    Hello, I have completed a manuscript of Culpeper’s SC battery in the Civil War. Lts. Joshua Lazarus Moses and his brother Perry were officers in the battery. I would dearly love to include the picture you have of Joshua Moses in my book. Can you tell me the process I need to go through to get permission to use the picture? Thank you so much for your help in this matter.

    Rett Floyd

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