On Wednesday July 1, Youth Insights Arts Careers participants had the pleasure of meeting Associate Curator Jane Panetta and the Senior Registrar of Exhibitions, Seth Fogelman. First, Panetta introduced us to her role at the Museum which completely surpassed my previous conceptions of what a curator does.
Beyond choosing the art for an exhibition, Panetta works with her team to come up with a theme, do extensive research on the social context of the art, and write wall texts. Even choosing the color for the walls is an important part of the project for the curatorial team. Curating an exhibition can take from one to three years! The Museum’s inaugural exhibition, America is Hard to See, took three years to curate. What I found most interesting was that the curators use a miniature model of the Whitney’s galleries with art pieces to scale to move around like a dollhouse in order to help see what a show might look like on the walls. Imagining a small Whitney Museum with little artworks made me wish I had that model in my room. After this introduction, Panetta took us to the Floor 5 and talked to us about the curatorial decisions behind various works on view.
Next, we met with Seth Fogelman whose job is to figure out how to get the artworks into the Museum and make sure they arrive on time. In order to give us a real understanding of his job, Fogelman gave each of us a map of the United States and an October 2015 calendar. He then read out cities for us to mark on the map, which represented the locations that different works are coming from. This activity made me realize that getting artwork to the Museum is an extremely complicated process! Not only does Fogelman have to create driving routes for the truck drivers, but he also has to schedule trucks on different days so that the work is unloaded and brought into the galleries carefully.
Hearing Panetta and Fogelman talk about their jobs was awesome. As a frequent visitor of museums, I really hadn't thought about anything beyond the art on display, so it was fascinating to learn about what it takes to put the art on view for the public.
By Jocelyn, YI Participant