The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art is home to over a thousand works from international, national and local artists. Students, faculty and visitors stroll through the building and take in the galleries and exhibitions, often unaware of the rigorous efforts that took place to get that art installed.
Exhibition preparator Art Miller is one of the Museum’s unsung heros. Miller has worked for the college in different capacities for over 20 years and is responsible for an extensive list of duties as preparator. Miller talked about how his job is different than that of preparators at other museums.
“There would be a lot of similarities. The one thing that’s unique being here on the college is that we have a campuswide art program in addition to the museum. Most preparators often would just work within the building, within the museum that they work, but we also have art across campus.
Many factors play into how and where art is installed around campus. Pieces from the college’s permanent collection are spread out around campus and are placed in focus areas according to their genre and medium.
“We generally install in sections and we’ll determine what often new acquisitions we think will work well together. Once we’ve determined the pieces that go there I first have to come up with a layout to determine how they’re going to relate to each other and that has a lot to do with available space and a sequence of which goes which to next and then I have to figure out how they’re displayed.”
Miller puts in many of his hours planning out the physical elements of how the pieces should be displayed, from the pedestals they sit on to the cases they’re housed in.
“With three-dimensional pieces that means designing pedestals. That has a lot to do with how big the pedestals should be, how high they should be, how much space a case should have. So first the pedestals … have to be designed, then [they] have to be fabricated and installed. Once that’s done we have to design the plexi-cases … Then we go through the process of installing the art into the pedestals and then the signage and the labels that go up for each piece of art … We also uniquely light everything across the campus which involves installing track light in the ceiling and every work of art will get its own lighting.”
Bruce Hartman has been the Executive Director of the Nerman Museum since its opening in 2007. Hartman believes that having art displayed around campus is an important trait of the college and benefits its students and professors.
“We really wanted to set it up so that faculty or visitors here could go to a destination point,” said Hartman. “So that if you were teaching a ceramics class, you could take your class in its entirety to the Carlsen Center and you could teach for a couple of hours just in that building looking at original contemporary ceramics. That’s true with the painting collection if you went to the dining hall.”
Wherever students roam on campus, they can rest assured that the team at the Nerman Museum has put time and care into the display of the college’s diverse art collection. Museum hours and more information about our college’s collection is available on the Nerman’s website.