On 4 October, a new exhibition exploring the folk art of Romania will open at the Horniman. The end product, which will be free for all to visit on our Balcony Gallery, is a result of almost two years of hard work by staff across many museum departments.
One of the most exciting stages of this process occurs when the objects chosen by the curator for display are brought out of storage and laid out in the museum in an early mock up of the final exhibition. Staff from all over the museum have a chance to take a look at the planned displays and work out what they need to do to get them ready.
Prior to the physical layout, our Graphic Designer Stew uses database photographs of each object to produce an initial paper layout matching designs by the curator, the precise measurements provided by the Documentation team allowing him to get this as accurate as possible without seeing the real thing.
The chosen objects are then laid out in positions as close to how they will be be displayed as possible on a 2D surface.
The measurements of each display case are marked out with string, so everyone can see clearly how the objects will fit in the space.
Having the real objects laid out is an important step, allowing the curator and Exhibitions team to compare the 2D plan with the real thing, and for our technicians to get a good look at the objects they will have to mount in a 3D display.
Some of the objects in Revisiting Romania provided a challenge for our Technicians, who needed to devise a way to mount large textiles without altering them in any way - meaning creating holes to attach them to walls.
Our Conservation team were on hand to advise on the best way to care for the objects while putting them on display, as well as to pick up on any necessary treatments.
In this case, it became obvious at the layout stage that a belt intended for display was too stiff to be mounted, prompting the Conservation team to step in with a treatment to soften the leather prior to display.
These technical considerations mean there are always small adjustments to be made to the way the objects are positioned.
Once finalised, each part of the layout is carefully photographed so that an up to date plan can be printed for the installation teams can refer back to, and more detailed shots are produced for the technicians to use when building mounts.
The size of some displays requires a high vantage point.
Long arms can be helpful, too.
The photographs and notes made during the layouts help to produce an up-to-date plan, which the installation teams can refer to when getting the objects on display.