Installing Andy Warhol: The Textiles
Andy Warhol Artworks © 2024 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London. Photography Phil Wilkinson

Ciara Lanzetta, one of our Exhibition Installation Assistants, has provided a first-hand account of her experience helping the Dovecot team install our latest exhibition – Andy Warhol: The Textiles.

Read about her experience below.

Have you ever wondered how an exhibition is installed at a museum?

I had the pleasure of assisting Dovecot Studios’ exhibition and curation team in installing their current exhibition, Andy Warhol: The Textiles, running until the 18th of May, 2024. This blog will detail my experience, including how objects are transported, what happens when they arrive at a museum and how they are displayed. 

The exhibition is dedicated to Andy Warhol’s commercial work as a textile designer in the 1950s and 60s, prior to creating his well-known pop-art works. The exhibition includes over 35 of his whimsically designed textiles that are characterised by fun prints and vivid colours.

I worked closely with museum technicians, Exhibitions and Collections Coordinator Jane Carey, and former Exhibitions Manager and Curator Ben Reiss to set up the exhibition. Despite months of careful planning for the selection and design of an exhibition, sometimes things don't always go according to plan. There were unforeseen delays on the first day of installation, which meant the exhibition items would not arrive in Edinburgh for another two days. Although this meant missing out on some of the action, 

I was still able to learn about how different objects are handled, wrapped, and stored for transport. Three main materials are used by museums to protect objects during transport: bubble wrap, acid-free tissue paper and Tyvek, a synthetic fabric that protects objects from dust, scratches and water. It's essential to have copious amounts of masking and packing tape on hand to ensure all tissue paper and bubble wrap are safely secured.

Luckily, all the objects had made it to Edinburgh ahead of my next visit, where I helped unpack and place objects into the exhibition space. I was also involved in condition-checking some of the recently unpacked objects, an important step in the processing of receiving exhibition items. A condition report is sent alongside each item, which includes a complete description of the item and notes any existing damage the item has. Upon receiving the works, it is essential that each object is thoroughly checked and that all damage is recorded with photographs on the report. If any new damage has been found, it should be photographed and added to the report. 

With the unpacking and condition reports complete, it was time to move on to the fun part - displaying the objects! I loaded each textile onto a trolley and into the exhibition space. From there, I placed each item on its plinth and decided on their final placement with Jane, considering the angle at which objects are oriented and how they interact with one another. 

I also learnt a few tricks along the way. Some objects require steaming after transportation, which is typically done by someone from the lending museum’s conservation team. Intervention is sometimes required to allow garments to lay perfectly on the stand. In some cases, stands are padded out to better fit the shape of the garment. Other times, wadding, acid-free tissue paper or thin plastic is gently shaped inside a garment to help hold the shape. We utilised this technique on a few of the the works to encourage sleeves and skirts to hang correctly and was especially helpful in adding some life to puffed sleeves. 

I enjoyed working so closely with the textiles in this exhibition. Each piece was so different but so uniquely Warhol. In the end, I was unable to choose one favourite object from the exhibition, so I will leave you with two to see before the exhibition closes. The first is the shoe-striped blouse in shades of pink and green, and the second is the pink and black sock dress with amazing rickrack trimmed edges.

The exhibition closes on Saturday 18th of May, so make sure to find your favourites before then!

 

- Ciara Lanzetta

Dovecot Studios Exhibition Install Assistant 

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