Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Art Logistics

As an arts manager, lots of our time is spent on logistics, facilities, maintenance and basic operations. In the art world, basic things like air conditioning and velcro can make a world of difference.

In this example, we see Italian confusion at its worst. In fact, I would say it is criminal. The Galleria Borghese – one of the most prestigious museums in Rome, with works by Caravaggio, Titian and Rubens in the collection, has allowed a Raphael to suffer damage from air conditioner problems.

Fortunately, this New York Times article provides some relief. After reading the article, do watch the video. The precision and choreography is nothing shy of spectacular.

What can I say? Conservation excites me when it’s done right, and it breaks my heart when a 500 year-old work of art that has survived war, plague, pestilence – and God only knows what else, is compromised by idiocy.


6 comments on “Art Logistics

  1. emkais
    September 19, 2014

    I agree, the wonders of conservation are fascinating! As you dramatically state, it’s heartbreaking to hear of such a common and fixable issue inflicting harm on such a well-preserved piece. It really makes me wonder about budgets, restrictions, and financial planning. As we learned, deferred investment is a big tempting no-no. I’m curious though, how a gallery of such standing in a country that funds plenty of cultural goods and maintenance—plenty through lottery proceeds—fails to budget or immediately right this air conditioning problem.

  2. amyjoforeman
    September 19, 2014

    Thanks for this Jamen! I’m so excited to be learning about museums because it’s a world completely unknown to me. I would never have realized what an issue air conditioning can be. How upsetting that the Rafael had to suffer b/c of negligence! The NYT article is definitely a relief. And so interesting to see how they manage the painting. You’re right, the video is spectacular! It made me realize that there is so much work that goes into moving and maintaining art pieces. WOW. Thanks for making me feel like a newborn baby in this museum world.

  3. hgenetos
    September 19, 2014

    I love this. As someone who walks through a gallery now and thinks about it from a building operations perspective (officially ruined my experience), these are the things I think about.

    The details in that NYTimes article made it perfect! I was unable to breath while reading it.

  4. jaredchamoff
    September 19, 2014

    I agree with Helene! The NYTimes article made the whole situation feel as high stakes as the plot of that movie “Gravity”. And to some extent… it is as stressful!!

  5. jessicamallow
    September 19, 2014

    I share your grief over such an issue. As a lifelong art lover, the idea that such a brilliant, breathtaking classic work (or any work, for that matter) could suffer historical trauma because of something as overlooked as air-conditioning is heart wrenching! You could delve into the various reasons for the museums oversight on temperature control; i.e. expenses, unreasonable season, anything. But they had to know that it’s foundational for them to preserve these works. I’d be floored if it wasn’t in their innate mission! And to let it suffer so is unmentionable. The article gives great insight into what actually happens in the process of a transport and removal…if only they all could go as smoothly!

  6. gormleykimberly
    September 21, 2014

    WHEW that Picasso video was stressful!

    Both of these articles highlight how important it is to think not only of the initial installation, but of the subsequent care art requires. I was so surprised to learn that nobody understood how the Picasso was attached to the wall, and that requests for updated air conditioning were denied. Art worth saving is art worth continually investing in. An acquisition isn’t a one time purchase, its a commitment to preserve for future audiences!

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