Traveling the Exhibit
A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.
On October 10th, our landmark exhibition “Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America” opened at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland. Getting an exhibit of nearly 300 objects packed, moved, and unpacked again is quite a process, though one that is hopefully invisible and seamless to the visitors … and to the objects themselves. We want it to look like everything was magically teleported to the new spot with minimal effort and impact, but of course it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Our summer interns, Joelle and Amy, were a fantastic help in packing the wide variety of artifacts and documents – from a one-inch package of scalpel blades to a full-size doctor’s examining table, from fragile blown-glass show globes to a sturdy vintage basketball – taking photos, writing condition reports, and typing up box lists to make sure everything would travel in good order. Lorie, our Archivist, and our wonderful team from Precision Plastics were also crucial to the preparations and the actual move. Once the truck arrived at the Maltz, I had the lucky task of traveling to Cleveland to spend four days unpacking it all, checking it once again, and putting it in place.
Not only the artifacts need to travel. In addition to the panels and graphics, we sent the exhibit’s display cases, artifact mounts, and props.
My visual memory is pretty good, but it isn’t wise to rely upon it entirely. A few judicious photos of the original exhibit help make sure we don’t have to reinvent the wheel or, in this case, the pharmacy window.
Lindsay Miller, Assistant Curator at the Maltz, was my partner all week as we installed the exhibit. Their gallery is shaped differently than ours, and the Maltz had their own content to add; it was not simply a matter of recreating our exhibition exactly, and Lindsay knew what needed to be changed or adapted. Plus, many artifacts require at least two pairs of hands for installation.
The Maltz has their own crew for the heavy lifting, just as we do.
“Beyond Chicken Soup” will be on display at the Maltz through April 8, 2018. If you’re traveling to Cleveland, we hope you’ll visit!