In Miasma, one of the characters is a curator, so I had to dig up what happens behind the scenes at a museum. Thousands of visitors go through our Smithsonian Museums in DC every day, and they have no idea all the things that happen before the museums open. Some of the jobs:
Art handlers: They take down paintings and hang them, but they also have a morning round dusting the art with either feather dusters, cloth diapers, or soft brushes. Because they look at the art every day, they also carry around a notebook and make notes on any changes they see. Can you imagine them checking the dinosaur bones at the Museum of Natural History?
Lamper: An electrician who changes the light bulbs. It doesn’t seem like a big job, but the National Gallery has 8,000 lights! Some lights are also adjusted to to best show off a particular piece of art. There’s a statue of a chubby angel at the museum where the lighting was arranged so that the neck didn’t look quite so short. Now every time I go into the museum, I also look at the lights to see how they’re being used to highlight the art.
Bracket Maker: This guy makes claws and clips that hold the art in place. These are very carefully concealed so no one viewing the art can tell. But they are also very sturdy — after our earthquake in Virginia, I wondered how the museums fared. The only damage was to unsecured artifacts in the backrooms.
It’s hard to believe so much goes on that we never see!
What’s the best art museum you’ve been to?