It was to the Jewellery and Metals department that I went four or five months before my show to organize the museum cases. Kurt had loaned me seven or eight cases last spring for an earlier museum display so I was quite hopeful to handle the whole thing easily; but I was wrong.
It turned out that the locking Jewellery cases are being asked for more and more by students outside their department and the time spent on maintenance of the cases was steadily increasing. Kurt apologized for making me a test case but he sent me off to the Illingworth-Kerr Gallery to ask for their cases. He hopes that the demonstrated requirement for more good, locking cases will convince the dean to fund a pool of cases for the general use of the fine arts faculty.
So off I trotted and told my story to Ron at the Illingworth-Kerr Gallery. I think it helped that I had already partially established my credentials by doing a window display in the Jubilee walkway. He said he would check into the matter and we should talk again in a week. When we met again he offered me three large cases if I would arrange the other three with Kurt. This I did and figured that all was settled.
A few false alarms with the Jewellery cases occurred; but in the end I had no real problems getting and using them for my show. The interesting developments were all related to the Illingworth-Kerr cases.
The cases from the Illingworth-Kerr were their 'good' ones; not just the 'poor' ones normally used by students in mall displays. The 'good' cases are the ones they use in their own displays and they are justifiably jealous of them for they are kept in extremely good condition. From the first I knew I would not be allowed to have keys and would have to rely on gallery staff to move, open and close the cases.
It was when we were loading the cases early on Monday, March 17th that I realized we had a major problem. My plan was to open the cases at 5pm on the day of the 'Rite of Rembrance' and move the artifacts into the gallery/chapel; but the gallery staff work from 8am to 4pm and there would be no one to open the cases. Additionally the cases had to be reclaimed by the gallery before I was through with them because they would be very busy on Tuesday April 1st striking their current show and preparing for the grad show. Because of Easter [Good Friday and Easter Monday are holidays] I had to relinquish the cabinets on the afternoon of Holy Thursday. I agreed to this and we solved the Monday problem by having the cases opened at 3:30 on the Monday afternoon of the rite and reclosed early on the Tuesday morning.
It struck me as very appropriate that the gallery's rules and needs should interfere in this way with my show. It reinforced some of the ideas about museums and their artifacts that I was working with. To a great extent I lost any control of my objects once they were locked away in the gallery-owned cases. I had to negotiate carefully to get them out when I needed them for the spiritual purpose.