El Anatsui tour continues: De-install and packing at Des Mones Art Center

By Arnold Tunstall, Collections Manager

One of the most exciting things about this particular exhibition is seeing how the works are transformed to fit each institution. The works themselves are manipulated to fit each space where the tour is installed.  Des Moines Art Center installed the pieces throughout its three buildings and created interesting relationships to its own collection.

Peak near Des Moines’ Julian Schnabel painting (background).

Peak, near Des Moines’ Julian Schnabel painting (background).

Gli in the I M Pei building with natural light and the Des Moines Sol LeWitt wall mural behind.

Gli in the I M Pei building with natural light and the Des Moines Sol LeWitt wall mural behind.

Preparing the removal involves careful folding and rolling techniques that are used for each work. For instance, we dismantled Peak into 140 individual sheets. Each sheet is then folded and wrapped in plastic to keep them separated from one another and packed into three crates and ready for shipping.

Des Moines crew de-installing and packing.

Des Moines crew de-installing and packing.

This tour is unusual in many respects. We’ve had to invent ways of handling sections of each piece of art, how we are packing it for transport, and even ways of describing or classifying the condition of these objects. As each work is manipulated from its space in a museum and brought into its new space, some of the wires will come loose or break. In this instance, repairs are made as needed. The tools of the trade are wire snips and rubber lined gloves to protect our fingers from the cut copper wire.

Important installation tools.

Important installation tools.

Here I am doing some slight repairs to some missing wires and detail of wire, gloves.
Here I am doing some slight repairs to some missing wires and detail of wire, gloves.

The exhibition is en route from the Des Moines Art Center to the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach. The crew in Miami will then transform these beautiful works yet another time to fit their building. The process of unwrapping sections, putting on gloves and adjusting wire will yet again take place. Look for the next blog post from the warmth of Miami and see how it’s incorporated into their space.

Keep reading our blog to see our impressions of the exhibition as it is installed at the Bass Museum of Art.

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