The Visitor Services Team is an integral part of the day to day running and maintenance of the Victoria Gallery & Museum and part of their job is to maintain exhibitions, particularly ones with interactive elements. The Art Sheds is a prime example of an exhibition that requires regular maintenance by the team to ensure that it always looks good for visitors. Visitor Services Team member Vicky recalls some of the tasks the team had to consider when looking after this exhibition.
“From the very beginning we were briefed by artist Susan Forsyth and our curator Moira Lindsay on what our role would be in helping to maintain the Art Sheds exhibition. As it is an interactive exhibit there are a number of things that would need to be taken care of on a daily or weekly basis.
“Members of our team were invited to briefing meetings with the curatorial and technical staff so that we could give our opinion on what issues we thought might arise from a visitor’s perspective. As these are actual sheds, they are raised off the ground slightly, so we had to find a way to ensure that visitors with mobility issues would be able to use the sheds. To solve this issue we purchased a small ramp. We also quickly discovered that although the sheds are child-friendly they are not pram-friendly due to the small size of the interior and the plinths used to display the statues and the vase so we created a sign with instructions for parents visiting with babies and smaller children.
“We regularly replenished the ink in the inkwells and ensured that pencils were always available. We were given a metal embosser so that we could mark the thick cartridge paper supplied in the Art Sheds with a logo and replaced the paper levels regularly. The watercolour paint trays required regular cleaning and visitor art was collected and displayed on regular rotation in our reception area. Co-ordinating requests for workshop places and setting up trestle tables and seating for tours and talks was also our responsibility.
“One of my favourite parts of the exhibition was taking pictures of visitors receiving the medals that Susan Forsyth designed for those who participated in the exhibition. They were so popular and the looks on the faces of the children especially when they were presented with a medal was really heart-warming, they were so excited and proud of themselves!
“We also took regular general photos and posted images and news on our social media pages to encourage visitors to come and try out the Art Sheds. We liaised with the Liverpool Biennial team who helped us by cross posting and re-tweeting messages, and we even received a mention in the Liverpool Echo, which we were thrilled with.
“So many people commented on how pretty and fun the Art Sheds were, and how in particular the exhibition had made their children excited about art. Lots of people also commented on how they enjoyed hearing about the history of the Art Sheds whilst on our weekly free drop-in guided tours (every Tuesday and Thursday at 12.30pm), imagining them sitting out on our Quad over 100 years ago from the view out of the window and how seeing the art in Gallery 7 by artists such as Augustus John really made the sheds’ history ‘come alive’.
“I also remember us all being tickled when three large boxes arrived marked ‘DONKEY EASEL’ in big letters and then the penny dropping when the boxes were opened containing the clever little easels with the flip up tops and the benches attached for the visitors to sit on when creating their art. And last, but by no means least, I loved it when Susan asked us to help to put together this blog to accompany the exhibition, which we hope you have enjoyed reading as much as we have enjoyed writing it. The Art Sheds exhibition has been so much fun, so informative and we have loved taking care of it.”
The Art Sheds exhibition closes this weekend, Saturday October 25th 2014.