Sunday, November 12th marked the closing day of our popular touring exhibition, American Impressionism: The Lure of the Artists’ Colony, at the International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS) in McAllen, TX. The months have flown by since the paintings were delivered in late July, and it is now time for them to move on to their next and final destination: The Haggin Museum in Stockton, CA. 

I snapped a few photos of the show before and during our pack-up. You’ll find pictures of blanket-covered tables and my condition report notebook set up with nitrile and cotton gloves at the ready. In the same fashion as I’ve done at many venues before, we took the artwork off the walls one-by-one, checked the condition for changes, wrapped them in their Tyvek sheets (secured with blue painters tape), and placed them snugly in their AirFloat StrongBoxes for shipment to the next venue. 

I’m fresh off the plane from Texas, and still getting used to the blustery 40˚ weather of PA after the hot, humid 85˚ and palm trees of McAllen! As I reflect on 5 full years of traveling twice every three months to set up and take down this exhibition, I want to tell you a little bit about my favorite parts of traveling with American Impressionism. One obvious perk has been seeing new places across the United States – often states that I’d never otherwise find myself visiting – and meeting the museum professionals who live and work there. The exhibit has been to Virginia (three times), Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Nevada, Mississippi, Maryland, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and soon California. 

Joy also comes in seeing how different curators choose to display some of RPM’s best paintings in their unique space– I’ve seen the show hung in a series of small rooms and corridors, in contemporary spaces with all white walls and angular ceilings, salon-style (densely hung with only a few inches from one painting to the next, several high), accompanied by garments and antiques of the same era, on wallpaper, and on painted jewel tone walls. What I’ve found is that they look beautiful in every single setting!

For each venue, RPM provides the artwork and the label text, as well as suggested groupings to follow the story of artists working together in artist colonies in the early years of the 20th century. Borrowers, however, do not have to follow the story or layout that we suggest. They are welcome to add additional artwork to the exhibit, perhaps to increase the number of works that relate to their geographical location, or to tell a slightly different story as it relates to their visitors and local community. When I finish unpacking and condition reporting the paintings at a venue, I fly home before the artwork is hung on the walls, so it’s always exciting to see installation photos of the final hang, and later to be the last person to see the show on the walls before we take it down to repack. 

I look forward to my upcoming trip to Stockton, and anticipate an installation that looks just as stunning as all the venues that have gone before.

-Ashley Hamilton Houston
Collections Manager & Registrar

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Tuesday
November 14, 2017

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