This month Appleton Museum of Art Curator of Exhibitions Patricia Tomlinson talks about why museums rotate art. Tomlinson, a former professional archaeologist, joined the Appleton in 2016 after serving as curatorial staff in the New World Department at the Denver Art Museum.
Spring is often considered a time of renewal. In the past, spring cleaning occurred yearly and houses were cleaned from top to bottom to sweep away the dust of winter and refresh for the coming summer months.
Museums often do something similar. The holiday season is usually very busy with lots of visitors and events and so there is little or no time to make changes. After the festivities are over, a curator has the opportunity to rotate the art in the galleries. What I mean by rotate is that some art is taken off view and other pieces are put in their place, creating a fresh, new look. This serves the dual purpose of allowing artworks time to rest in the dark, which helps preserve them, and puts other great art on display for everyone to enjoy.
Art rotations also help keep the museum exciting because there is always something interesting to see. For example, a while ago, I created a small gallery of Alexander Calder’s works on paper. Because paper is inherently fragile, it was time to rest the prints and take them off view. In their place, I designed a gallery that presents various artists’ interpretations of our state. Visions of Florida includes photographs by Clyde Butcher, Mac Stone and Carlton Ward Jr., paintings by Christopher Still and Mark Messersmith, pottery by Beth Garcia and other works.
The Modern and Contemporary galleries have also experienced some spring cleaning recently. The Appleton is lucky enough to own pieces by the terrific artist cooperative known as Los Carpinteros, based in Havana, Cuba and their work is now on view. Often incorporating humor into their work, the artists are known for creating visual contradictions and exploring themes such as functional versus impractical. One of my favorite artworks by Los Carpinteros is a pair of very large flip-flops that are carved with a relief map of Havana. In keeping with their familiar themes, the artists marry the functionality of a commonly worn item such as flip-flops with the impracticality of a deeply incised map of Havana, which makes the sandals impossible to actually wear.
Among other items now on display is one of artist Sharon Kerry-Harlan’s art quilts. Woman with Roosters combines her mastery of quilting with beautiful wax-resist images of roosters around the quilt border. Intricately carved woodcuts of Annelies Dykgraaf’s childhood in Africa are also currently on view.
So, you see? Museums also participate in the refreshing and renewing of spring cleaning.
Due to COVID-19, the museum is closed until May 15th. Visit www.appletonmuseum.org for updated information. Appleton Museum of Art, 4333 E Silver Springs Blvd., (352) 291-4455.