Museum Musings: Exhibition Throwback is where SMoCA staff members reflect on memorable exhibitions from SMoCA’s past, share stories about working with artists, and why a particular exhibition continues to stick with them.
Wild Thing: Adventures with the Permanent Collection
May 19 – September 30, 2018
As the museum’s registrar, my role is most often behind the scenes. A very large part of my job is working on incoming exhibitions from the initial loan agreements and contracts through to the installation and condition reporting. But, another aspect of my job is to act as co-collections manager along with Laura Spalding Best, SMoCA’s exhibition manager. In 2018, we were given the opportunity to create an exhibition using works from the museum’s collection. Laura and I spend a good amount of time working with the permanent collection in various aspects. One day while we were working on the photography of the collection together, we decided to brainstorm ideas for our upcoming exhibition. It took us about 5 seconds to agree upon a concept. Through our photography project, we began to see patterns in the art works and repeated themes. We looked at each other and said simultaneously “Animals!” and the idea of Wild Thing was born.
SMoCA’s collection includes hundreds of works that have representations of animals and we became enthralled with the idea of showing as many as possible. We were incredibly fortunate to borrow works from Scottsdale Public Art and commission new works by local artist Christy Puetz. We quickly decided upon having two massive salon walls in addition to works in small groupings throughout the rest of the gallery space. We wanted the gallery to have the feeling of opulence found in a natural history museum or a library.
Being able to work on a large exhibition like this with Laura was a dream. It still amazes me how closely our visions aligned and what comradery we found in pulling it all together. I have so many wonderful memories of the planning and installation, and the eventual joy it brought to so many museumgoers. What a treat pulling together works from the permanent collection that we loved and being able to highlight works that might not ever be on exhibition otherwise. Wild Thing was truly an amazing adventure!