Friday, July 24, 2009

In the Future

by Marysia Lopez

This week, two women from Sarasota came in to meet with Peter to discuss Museum at Work, and to observe the overall museum atmosphere. These women are in the process of opening up their own contemporary art museum in Sarasota. As they jokingly said, they were hoping to explore how CAM works in order to avoid making mistakes when they open their own museum. 


To speak with these women was definitely one of my highlights here so far.  I probed them about the process of opening up a brand new museum (something I've never given much thought to) and they tested us on our knowledge of Museum at Work. After asking them about their journey in opening a new museum, I found out that it's a very slow and long process. They shared with us that they needed to raise $22 million in order to start and open up their museum. In two years, they have raised a little less than half of that. Unfortunately, with the current state of the economy, not many have the money to donate to the arts.


Something that really caught my attention was when one of the two women mentioned that they really wanted to make it a contemporary art museum to help people get over their "fear" of contemporary art. I never really thought of contemporary art as something to be feared, but the more I thought about it, the more I noticed that it was true. As one intern stated in a past entry, she confused a table that was used to bring out art pieces from the vault, with a piece of art. Contemporary art is different than art of the past because there seems to be no constraints on what "defines" art anymore. Many people might go into a contemporary art museum and wonder "why is that art?"  Instead of allowing themselves to enjoy the art, they become confused and frustrated. I have to admit that as a Humanities major who has studied mostly Renaissance and Baroque art, I am sometimes guilty of doing the same thing. But in my weeks of interning at CAM so far, I've realized how important contemporary art museums are in keeping the local culture of art alive. As Museum at Work comes to an end, I can honestly say that I'm very proud to have gotten the opportunity to intern at CAM and I can't wait to see what else CAM will bring to the USF community in the future.

Exceeding Expectations

by Ashley Rand

Museum at Work has finally come to an end. I must say I learned way more than I originally anticipated. When I started the project in May, I had no idea how much I would take from this experience. I found myself in this final week at CAM looking around and realizing everyone has an important role. Entering in the museum on Monday, I watched as one show came down, the preparations to get the next show had started. In fact, the next show doesn't open until August 17th, however it takes a lot of time to set up the gallery and paint the walls to get everything into order for things to get accomplished. On Tuesday, the art work for the next show had come into CAM. While Shannon checked everything in and other museum staff helped as well, moving things around so the crates would fit, you realize just how sturdy and heavy they are to transport all the work. Although the art work came in on Tuesday, you can't just open up the crates and check out the artwork right away because it needs to adjust to the temperature and sit for a day or so. After sitting, the artwork needs to be inspected, and a long process of documenting the condition of the work begins (including photographs and reports that go along with a binder so each time this show is shipped, the next museum has an idea how it left our hands). In theory this sounds quite easy, however it indeed takes a lot of time to piece together, but none the less, it is a very important step in putting the show together.

Although the internship is finished, I don't believe this is the last CAM has seen of me. I plan on volunteering during this next year to get some more insight on how every aspect of the museum is run; I feel there is always something more to learn. I look forward to expanding my mind and learning more.

The Visuals of Silence

by Barbara Cardinale

When a show comes to an end, usually the curtain falls.  Yet, this was not the case during week 9 at CAM.  I am not exactly sure why the black velvet cape had to go up, but despite my ignorance, it's so odd to see our work space so open. We continued to document gelatin silver prints in the collection.  Hugo Leopold's works, although a bit redundant in theme, were beautiful.  I was curious as to where the 'beach-esque' photographs were shot, and Shannon, after researching a bit, deduced that the shots were taken somewhere in California.  We also shared a lunch together on Thursday, as Enaam and Sarah worked diligently in the kitchen to make us all at CAM a beautiful meal that consisted of mostly Vietnamese cuisine.  All were silent, which meant that the food was delicious.  It was so nice coming together to eat, as this is a sure sign of an ending to what has been a wonderful working experience.  On Friday, there was more silence, as I did not have to partake in writing an entry for the journal because we will be writing a wrap-up entry next week.  It's so shocking that next week will be the end of the exhibition project, but I am looking forward to the coming week's activities because I have been able to make some time to come in a a few extra hours.  We also have gained a few more interns, since the summer B semester has begun.  We have a new blogger on board, Marysia, so I spent some time Thursday explaining to her the ins-and-outs of the blog.  I was pleased to see Friday afternoon that she had already submitted two entries.  Surely, I am going to miss interning at CAM, but that absolutely does not mean that I won't be back to enjoy one of my favorite places to be on campus.  I feel so fortunate that I have been able to get to know the staff more intimately and work with them on such an important documentation and exhibition project. 

Continuing to Learn

by Marysia Lopez

We are getting closer to the end of Museum at Work, and although I haven’t been working on it for nearly as long as everyone else, I can see that a lot of hard work has gone into the exhibition project.  I think all of the volunteers and interns should be proud of all the work they’ve put into it.

I helped with more photographing of different art work, thereby learning how to handle each different type of art work, from paintings to photography.  I also helped Shannon make the labels for the art work, which displays the name of the artist, the art work, the year it was made, etc.  Yet another one of those things you always see in art museums, but never give much thought to.  It was definitely a more complicated process than I thought it would be. First I helped Shannon correct some mistakes that had been made to some of the labels and saw that an adobe program was used to make them, instead of plain old Microsoft Word, which was what I assumed was used.  Little did I know that the Adobe program was a lot of help in not only centering the wording, but also in the cutting that would take place later.  After printing, we used spray adhesive to place them on a white board, then cut them into rectangular pieces.  This is where the lines that Adobe had created on the sides came in handy (with knowing where to cut). 

As Museum at Work comes to an end, I’m excited to work on new projects/exhibitions and I know I will continue to learn much more about working in a museum. 

Prints in Person

by Ashley Rand

As Museum at Work is coming to an end I find myself wanting to learn as much as possible. It was quiet in the work area on Monday. Peter and I managed to get the day's work done in a timely fashion with our assembly line in order. Peter would take the print and photograph the image while I would simply document and keep track of the day's work. It was quiet also due to the fact that the Sixty Minutes show is currently down and people may just think our half is done as well, but we'll still be going on another week, so please stop by. Other than that, my highlight of the week was seeing actual William Eggelston's prints in person. I was so excited to be able to get up close and examine his work, but when I had the chance to see the prints I was a little taken back. Being an admirer of his work, the prints which we were photographing are nothing what I expected. This doesn't mean they weren't awesome shots; the subject matter in my opinion was not that interesting in most prints. When envisioning Eggelston's prints I hoped to see vibrant colors and scenes with torn windows or people simple yet complicated, not just up close flowers. However, it was still amazing to say I had the opportunity to see his work in person. With only one week left to the show, I am pretty much satisfied with how everything has turned out with my experience. I feel like as a group we accomplished what was expected, if not more. I know in my experience I learned a lot of rules to live by in a museum world.

What is Contemporary Art?

by Sarah Crocker 

I learned much more during my time at CAM than I had ever thought I would.  In the past, when I've volunteered someplace, my duties haven't been much more than menial labor: move this box, file these papers, vacuum the floor.  I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that I would be doing more than just that at the museum.  We were taught how to handle and move artwork, various printing and other production techniques, and how to hang certain pieces on the wall (not to mention a little math on the side).  Peter and Shannon were willing to answer all of my questions, some of which were incredibly basic and not always the most observant (“So, how are you going to photograph that piece of art?”  “ ...that's actually a cart, Sarah”). 

Also, working with other volunteers and interns who were there almost entirely because of their interests in art and museum work was loads of fun.  I'm not trying to present an overly happy, false picture just to save face for some reason; I honestly enjoyed working with all of the various people who were involved in this project.  It's exciting to see how we all tried to make sense of this exhibition using our backgrounds in art, museum work, English, anthropology, the humanities, and more.  I know I can always use a few new perspectives that aren't grounded in the social sciences.

This definitely isn't going to be goodbye for me.  This project has only served to further my interests in museum work and, schedule allowing, I plan to continue working at CAM as a volunteer.  I only expected this to be a way to take up time during the summer and marginally fulfill my interests; it has turned out to mean much, much more.

My First Week

by  Marysia Lopez

Although the week of June 28th meant being closer to the end of Museum at Work for most other volunteers and interns, it was the first week for me.  I couldn’t help but feel slightly overwhelmed, as everyone else had a routine down, while I had just come back from studying art history in Florence.  Coming back from 6 weeks of studying 14th and 15th century art works and jumping into the works at the Contemporary Art Museum was definitely an adjustment.  But I think it’s always interesting to wonder what people centuries from now will say of the art we’ve been photographing and documenting at CAM. What will it reveal about our society, politics, and overall history?  As a humanities major, I’m always considering these factors when looking at art, whether contemporary, from a few decades ago, or from a few centuries ago.

In just two days of interning at CAM, I had already learned much more than I knew about working in an art museum before coming in, which I have to admit was essentially nothing.  On my first day, we worked on photographing a portfolio which combined both words and art work.  I learned about the importance of handling these works carefully, but also not taking too much time on handling them carefully because, as Peter said, the more time you spend handling an art work, the more likely you are to do something to it.  I also learned the importance of photographing an art work correctly.  In other words, making it look appealing and also making it look like what it actually is.  In this way, it could be compared to commercial photography for advertisements. 

Even though I came in late to Museum at Work, I can already tell that this project is teaching me a lot and will continue to do so.

A Diamond in the Rough

by Barbara Cardinale

Week eight was short and sweet for me because of the Fourth of July holiday.  Rather than discussing the minimal amount of work I did, (pick up print. set it down. repeat.), I want to share my thoughts on how wonderful it is to live in a country in which art is appreciated (although, I guess not always.)  I read in the Museum Education Monitor, a publication sponsored by the American Association of Museums (, that only two congressman openly support funding for museums.  A pretty shallow number compared to the 435 total representatives.  Without the support of those apart from the government (i.e. museum directors, visitors, donors, artists, YOU, etc.), I couldn't imagine what state our country would be in without museums and art.  

The Contemporary Art Museum is like a diamond in the rough.  When I mention to fellow students that aren't associated with the artsy side of USF whether or not they have been to CAM, they look at me like I'm an alien.  It's a shame that this museum isn't as popular as the USF football team, but at least we have it.  Since I work with the University Archives in Special and Digital Collections, one of the ways that I preserve CAM's legacy is by collecting and archiving the museum exhibition postcards.  I also hung the "Work Promotes Confidence" postcard on my door at work to promote the Museum at Work exhibition project.  A blog like this also helps get the word out, so please, make comments, tell us what you think, and most of all, come see us!  There are only two weeks left and your patronage is always appreciated!  

50 Pieces

by Ashley Rand

This week was quite eventful. On Monday alone, we managed to document 50 pieces of unframed work. I know it sounds like a lot, but that's because it is. We managed to photograph the entire series by Larry Clark titled Tulsa. The series includes 50 images that are approximately the same size. So one might think the process for documenting these works would be easy. Actually, although it was simple, it did require a lot of prep work to get the series completed. Since we have moved onto documenting flat works, the entire working area has changed, as we now have the lights set up in a way that faces down towards the floor. We have our working area set close to the ground, with the camera mounted on a tripod above the work. It takes a few test shots for us to get the day started.  Once Peter is comfortable and satisfied with the lighting, the assembly line begins to form. With unframed prints, you need to be extra sensitive as to not crease, bend, or mark up the paper. In this case, I was mainly helping out setting up the gray and color scales alongside the prints and making sure that the photograph was set up backwards due to the way the camera was arranged. Being that this series is incredibly delicate, Peter and Shannon were the only ones to handle the actual art work that day, while the interns recorded and helped when needed. This was by far one of my favorite days. Not because I didn't have a lot to do, but for having the opportunity to see this series in person. It was by far amazing. It made me realize why I loved black and white photography and everyday life with normal people. This series was simply beautiful, even though some prints weren't pleasant to look at, it still told a story about how one survived in Tulsa. I never would have imagined. After seeing this series, I now feel it's necessary to have the book in my collection and will be purchasing it within the week. I can't wait to see what works we will photograph next week. My excitement keeps growing each week. 

Monday, July 6, 2009

Simply Amazing

by Ashley Rand

Another week with the Museum at Work and still learning something new each day. This week was quite eventful as we managed to finish all the framed pieces of art work, however, in the process I was able to learn how to store the works. This was by far one of my most stressful weeks because the art varied so much in size. Any normal person would just store the art back to back, front to front, but in a museum there are precautions in which one needs to follow in order to store the work properly. In fact, you do place artwork back to back or front to front depending on which way it is needed, although on top of that the work needs to span the other piece. "What exactly does that mean?" you might ask; it means that the when storing art you can't have a piece smaller than the one in front, behind because it will dig into the back of the work. The same goes for placing the pieces facing each other; you can't have a piece that the frame sets on the Plexiglas; it needs to be wider or taller than the original piece. "Why?" you ask; simply because you want to avoid the possibility of scratches getting onto the work. This was news to me and in fact took me an entire day to get the hang of it. Although it makes complete sense, I never would have known how to place art back in the vault.

While working at CAM, I often check local museums for exhibits going on and was beyond excited when I saw the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete having an exhibit on Andy Warhol. I was able to go see the show on Wednesday, and was absolutely amazed. However, while I enjoyed the show and the museum, I realized how much effort went into hanging each piece onto the wall. I know the dedication and hard work each individual went through to make sure every piece was hung at the exact place on the wall. I feel for the first time that I not only appreciated the exhibit, but indeed everything that went along with the art work. After working with the Museum at Work staff at CAM this summer, I know the dedication it takes to make a show successful. I would advise people to go look at this exhibit, for it was simply amazing.

Talking Heads of the Museum

by Barbara Cardinale

As I walked into CAM during week seven, I was taken back by the changes in the gallery. The black cloak that had once masked half of the set was now pulled back from side to side to reveal a contraption that holds a camera and unframed works of art. Peter was engaged in testing the camera to print ratio. While he was doing this, he appeared more so as an actor than a photographer, as he had to leap back and forth from the camera to a spot on the "stage" that wouldn't distort the lighting. We interns and volunteers all agreed that the exhibition project is not only an exercise in viewing and touching art works, but physically a performance art in how we are constantly moving and displaying ourselves. As a lover of performance arts (I've been in a few on-stage productions), I find myself feeling like David Byrne of the Talking Heads-- a man that combined visual art with performance art. How awesome is it that I get to work in this environment?

Also this week, I was interviewed by a member of the Oracle newspaper staff. Check out what I had to say, as well as others here:

The Art of the 1970's

by Jasmine Rippy


Photographed the Documenta series from 1970 – finding out how much I like work from the1960’s-late 70’s….There is a quality to early contemporary work that resonates just as strong today as it must have then. I find that many modern day contemporary artists are regurgitating that which our predecessors had been doing years before and it is not exactly any better. Something very bad happened to art in the 80’s and I’d very much like to see it shaken off already.


Got through most of the objects today but hit some bumps with hanging work so will finish up the rest of what we pulled from the vault tomorrow


Nothing spectacular about the day; we are doing the same thing we do everyday. Got to photograph a Robyn Denny piece that was pretty neat. His work is more about the object than it was of the old school institutional idea of that pretty picture on the wall. It consists of multiple shallow plexi cubes and pigment coated metallic panels inside. Each piece has a subtle colour change from panel to panel ranging from orange to green. It will be nice to look at all the images together later on in the term to get an idea of these in their full context.


New week and new works to document – Eduardo Paolozzi Unit I: Secret of Life, The Human Machine and How it Works was my favorite of the day. (Again from 1970) I had to look him up after we were done today to check out some of his other work. I much prefer learning about art / artists this way much more than reading about it in a book or trying to stay awake in a lecture. Educators take note*


Lots of interns here today so we are sharpening our skills of teamwork, communication and sharing. Pulled some amazing photographs to do – Minor White (no, its not Ian MacKaye’s new band.) Again, I had to look him up… apparently one of the greatest American photographers.


Mostly prints today – Had some nice work by Donald Staff from his Sonnets Suit. It has become a lot of: pull, hang, shoot, put back – the repetition becomes monotonous and it makes me feel like I am disrespecting art somehow by failing to take the time to appreciate it.


Wrapping up of photographing framed works today and I can’t help but to have mixed feelings of it. Glad to be moving on to dealing with something new but there are still so many more pieces in the framed collection I would love to see and learn from. I will have to come back after the term....


Reconfigured lighting and camera set up for working with works on paper. Also got a chance to hang about in the fabrications and repairs shop with the cool rats as they tricked out our new transport cart for the flat works. Bam! Whut!?


Finalized new set up for flat paper works: tweaked the lighting, created clean steady surfaces for transporting and prepping artwork, cleaned and tidied up accumulations from past few weeks (putting away tools and the like that we will no longer need etc.) and then started to shoot works on paper! We started out with two portfolios of photographic work. The art handler’s dance has changed rhythm and the work is so much more vulnerable.

CAM is a Stage

by Sarah Crocker

The more I think about it, the more thought-provoking this past Thursday has been. Earlier in the day, I had talked to one of the other volunteers about how the Museum at Work exhibition project may be interpreted as a form of performance art. We (volunteers, interns, and museum employees) are a vital part of the project, whether or not we recognize this fact. If you consider this exhibition project to be performance art, in whatever significant or insignificant way, we are part of the art itself. Maybe this isn't a revelation for anyone else. I don't feel like a painting or a print or a photograph, but if people are visiting the museum to see both the artwork and the workers (or at least the process of moving and photographing the artworks), it's undeniable that we're a vital part of this exhibit.

When we're not in the museum actually working on something, there's little to see. This reminds me of the reporter that came in recently, after many of us had left or were packing up to leave. He stood next to the barrier, in plain sight of the camera and lighting set-up and all of the computer equipment and asked “Where's the exhibit?” I certainly don't think that this was a stupid question; instead I believe it speaks to the importance of our place in this project.

Another interesting thing occurred Thursday. When I first walked into the gallery, I saw Shannon standing in front of what, at the time, looked like an elaborate art installation. There was a large white board, a smaller blue box on top of that, and a strange metal and wood structure bolted to the side of it. Trying to play it cool, even though I had no idea what the piece was about, I mentioned it to Shannon... who told me it was a cart for transporting prints.

Initial embarrassment aside, it really made me think about others possibly faking an appreciation for art. Even more interesting, Shannon mentioned how a lot of people walk into an art museum (especially if it's a contemporary art museum) expecting that everything in the gallery is a work of art. This mild paranoia, combined with my reluctance to seem like a complete blockhead, produced a fairly entertaining result. I wonder if anyone else feels this way.

Friday, June 26, 2009

'Out-of' Space and the Gallery as Galaxy

by Barbara Cardinale

If I had to choose a single word to describe week six, it would be 'space.' As a current student assistant for the USF Tampa Library's Special Collections department, I understand how space complications may arise due to limited room for collections and work. Each week, I dedicate five to seven hours assisting Pat Tuttle, the Special Collections department's book processor and shelf organizer. I have been working with Pat for only a month now, and thus far we have moved three collections in order to create more space for all of the new book acquisitions. Often, Pat says, "we are getting more books in, but I have no idea where we are going to put them!"

This week at CAM I really felt as though I was working in a Special Collections department. After all, a museum's collection could be considered a "special collection" in library terms. Not to mention the grant funding agency in Washington, D.C. that focuses on museums and libraries called the Institute of Museum and Library Services. For more information about, IMLS, go to:

I mention IMLS because they afforded me a scholarship and grant called the ALSTARS which stands for Academic Librarians for Tomorrow's Academic Researchers. For more information as to what the ALSTARS is about, please go to:

So space is on my mind, as fellow interns, volunteers, Peter, Shannon and I prepared for the auditors' visit on Friday, June 19th. We had to to pull and showcase eight different works from the 2007-2008 fiscal year because the University is interested in whether or not these works are present within CAM's collection. The pieces varied in size and format; the largest of the works, and the most difficult to pull from the collection was Robert Gelinas' Untitled acrylic on canvas (that, interestingly, is date unknown.) It took five people and two ladders to move the piece from its location. Once it was on our level, it took us ten minutes to decide where it should be placed for the time being. We had to move and adjust other art works and a photo-stand on the ground level in order for the required works to be displayed. A table that was already in the room needed to be free of all items so a piece of foam core could be set on it to display five additional works. These included Robert Mangold's Untitled, from Four x Four x Four (1990), two other Untitled pieces, one by Gustavo Rivera (ca. 1990) and the other by Mikhail Ivanov (1990), and two polacolor photographs by Andy Warhol titled Carolina Herrera (1978) and Cabage Patch Doll (1984-1985). Another large print was displayed, Larry Bell's Vapor Drawing (1981), but it was on the ground level so it was easy to get to and didn't need to be moved.

I can't begin to describe how excited I was to browse through The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts gift of 106 photographs and 50 gelatin silver prints from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program. As a lover of contemporary theory, Andy Warhol's art is the pinnacle of contemporary thought and movements, as Warhol is to me one of the most famous prognosticators of the ever evolving question, "what is art?" For more on CAM's collection of Andy Warhol photographs, go to:

Although CAM's vault is designed to house art works and not display them such as Graphicstudio's vault, it is because CAM's gallery is the space for art-- a roomy space for the artist stars. I feel like I am standing on a blue moon, as I have been fortunate to see CAM's collection rotate like the planets in the sky.

Bringing Art to You

by Enaam Alnaggar 

This week, we moved some medium-sized framed works. These were among the last few framed works to be photographed, as we would be moving on to cataloging other kinds of artwork in the next week. The pieces that interested me the most were those included in the “Art in the News” series. This series contains 12 works, each created by a different artist for the newspaper medium. Each piece was released in The Tampa Tribune once a month from January to December. A year-long exhibit showcasing these pieces was held at CAM throughout 1999. All of the works were very interesting and thought-provoking, but my favorites include those by Mariko Mori (who studied at Bunka Fashion College!), William Wegman, and Allan McCollum. I think that the “Art in the News” series was a great way of bringing art out of the museum and, literally, to the mainstream’s doorstep, coffee table, and office desk, hopefully generating a great deal of interest in contemporary art.

For more information on the “Art in the News” exhibit and to see small images of the works, please visit:

The page includes short bios of each artist and links where you can find even more information.  

Here is a link to a Youtube video of Mori's 2007 exhibit at the Groninger Museum:

You can probably very easily find other info and lists of each artist’s works in Wikipedia, as well. Plugging an artist’s name into Google Images will bring up tons of images of their works and often links to articles, interviews, and even blog posts reviewing that artist’s career. I encourage you to explore!

New photos have been uploaded to the Flickr account, so be sure to check them out. In our new layout, our Flickr account can be accessed from the “Photos” link, located in the top navigation bar. Clicking “Press” will take you to a recent article published in a local newspaper about the Museum at Work exhibit.

See you next week and thanks for reading!


by Ashley Rand

Museum at Work this week was a little more laid back than usual. On Monday, WUSF news came in and did a brief interview with Peter. During the interview, we had some visitors walking through the exhibit with questions regarding the project; perfect opportunity for us to let the public know what we were up to this summer. While Peter was being interviewed, Shannon and all of us interns were getting the paper work and art work set up for the day's shooting. This entails us taking measurements of the work, getting the line up ready, and placing hangers on the wall. The interview slightly took away from our normal photographing routine in the morning, however, after we took a break for lunch, we managed to come back and get the days work done and put away before 5:00 PM. Starting next week we will begin to photograph unframed prints. It will be interesting to see how we set up for this kind of work. I'm sure the first day will be a little rough with getting the lights situated, but by the second day we should have a routine down. As of last Wednesday, we had more than 300 pieces of work photographed; this means the Museum at Work project is making great progress.

The Photography Realm

by Barbara Cardinale

We are over half way into the semester, with less than 600 pieces left to photograph.  During week five I was able to learn more about the photography realm of the project.  I was really intrigued by the Oscar Bailley works, not only because they were shot on USF property and produced at Graphicstudio, but also because of the interesting way in which the photographic prints were created.  My favorite piece by Bailley was titled Ed Ruscha because of the way in which the photograph was taken.  I learned that there are two different types of cameras that capture a panoramic view.  A cirkut camera takes a 360 degree shot, whereas a banquet camera only takes an 180 degree photograph.  Ed Rushca was taken with a a cirkut camera.  What is so unique about this technique is that the lens of the camera and the film in the camera run in the opposite direction of one other to create the wide panoramic picture.  The lens and film run slow, so artist Ed Ruscha is seen multiple times in the picture, sometimes in full form, and in between him are ghost-like images of himself moving down the line of the image.  As he moved, he displayed a different book that he wrote, one by one as he walked.  Words can't really capture the magnificence of this piece, but I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to see it and learn about this amazing, photographic technique.  

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fan-girl Like Excitement

by Jasmine Rippy


Starting to feel confident in our abilities since we are given room to perform more independently. Also getting to know the vault more intimately as I know what goes where.




Photographed The New York Collection for Stockholm!! Serra, Nam June Paik, SOL LeWitt, and Lichtenstein; it was amazing. Though they were small works, and the photographing went pretty quick, they were all about the same size and therefore the hanging set up didn’t need changing between.  I was able to get some sketching done in between shots of some of the work. There were definitely some works I would like to revisit once the cataloguing is done. Even more impressive to me, than being able to sketch from some of these works, has to be the fangirl-like excitement I get from holding in my hands a work made by my creative idols and hanging it on the wall. Yes, I am a dork like that!




Pretty uneventful for me today, as I came in late and missed all the photographing. Just shows how important it is in your intern experience to be there, available and willing, even if there isn’t something happening at the moment because something will eventually. And if you aren’t there to experience it, you just miss out. In the end, it’s not about the grade; it’s not about a degree requirement; it’s not about the institution getting slave labor; it’s all about what YOU are able to get out of it. 

We did have some oddball pieces this week to photograph though, so I did learn some nifty tricks from Peter about dealing with transparent and reflective works.

Must Remember Sketch Book

by Jasmine Rippy




First day of week two I am holding a Chuck Close and multiple Robert Rauschenberg’s…. not at the same time of course. I wonder how many more days will start like this – I love this job!




Being exposed to so many inspiring works of art on a daily basis overwhelms me at times, and I find myself wishing for a studio break during the day. I had to be reminded to move away from in front of the work after it had been hung so it could be photographed – I just stood there, staring….




More on multiples: Verdea Chryssa, untitled from Chinatown Portfolio. Imagery of Chinese characters over and over – I enjoyed these, I have had the concepts of multiples, repetition, and habit swimming in my head recently - must remember to bring sketchbook with me to the museum.

The Exhibition has Opened!!!

by Jasmine Rippy 

We are all on display now just like some of CAM's art collection since the doors finally opened to the public. It has been a busy first week filed with anxiety, first times, tons of amazing art and a lot of hard work! 

Most of the week I have been on a learning curve just figuring out how to do stuff and how not to do stuff, especially while handling artwork. I have learned to slow down considerably while working and I am feeling as though I am getting better at just being aware of the artwork and myself. It is unbelievable how much one touch from even a gloved hand can affect an object, let alone the possibilities when moving it to and from the collection vault. So far, we have moved mostly paintings, all varying in size from 15-20 feet to three feet, both tall and wide. 

We also went to Graphicstudio this week to pick up a piece that was getting a little face lift.  We had the opportunity to look on as they worked the piece and we were given a mini-tour of the atelier, while Peter was checking out some of the other works. We had a chance to see the printing presses and even some studio rats at work. Again, like CAM, this place is totally underrated; the works dripping from their walls is but a whisper of what they do (and have done) there. It, too, is a treasure to Tampa.

At the end of the day, we looked on as the images are loaded to the database and assigned their accession numbers so they can later be attached to their data files. I know this is just a peek into the non-physical side to museum work, as I am sure after all of the photographs have been taken we will soon begin cataloguing them.  This will allow us get to know the computer database, Embark, quite well.

The Individual Museum

by Barbara Cardinale

I was excited during week four when Shannon asked me to help her locate art works in Embark for the up-and-coming Foundation Annual Review.  I was capable of tagging the pieces required by the auditors, which enabled me to learn a bit more about the documentation software's layout and commands.  For this particular search, I focused on finding the items by artist sort name.  This brings up the object record, or a constellation of information related specifically to the art piece.  For a couple of pieces from the Warhol Foundation, I searched by accession number simply because they are unique and I was curious if it would work.  One interesting fact I learned is that each piece of art contains a credit line which is similar to a bibliographic citation.  The credit line is assigned to each work of art to designate who or where it came from.  For instance, if CAM purchased a work of art from a gallery, the credit line is: MUSEUM PURCHASE, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA COLLECTION.

Shannon also explained to me that unlike libraries, museums are more flexible when it comes to organizing their holdings.  There are no set universal standards, such as the Library of Congress subject headings that are used for monographic record holdings in certain libraries (mainly academic or governmental).  Rather, each museum may designate a particular organizational structure that best suits that institution.  This means that accession numbers will vary, along with how the holdings are organized.  Staff may also be assigned various jobs, depending on the size of the museum.  So, for instance, although Shannon is designated as the registrar, she also works alongside the Curator of the Collection, Peter Foe, and Chief Preparator, Vince Kral.  Since I am interested in specializing in archival work, I may want to consider working for a large museum, although I am not opposed to collaborating with others to get work completed.  

Next week, I hope to continue to work with Embark and that I have the opportunity to learn more about the photography aspect of documenting.  I was happy when Peter wanted to explain to me what a Color Strip’s purpose serves when he is photographing artworks.  Its primarily used to help him adjust the lighting of the photograph once it is uploaded onto the computer.  Apart from the photography, I anticipate working with Enaam and Sarah to make our blog more unique, but structured, as Peter made a few suggestions for it to appear more pristine.  Now, I wait for Thursday…

Museum Explorers

by Sarah Crocker

It's been difficult to pursue my interest in studying a guest's experience at the exhibition.  Visitor traffic has been low here, which is certainly expected for summer, but definitely not what I was hoping for.  There have been a few guests, but whenever they've been here, I've been working on something and couldn't talk to them, or I've been back in the collections vault with the other volunteers and interns.  I did get to talk to Shannon about my ideas for a bit, and she confirmed a lot of my expectations – some of the people who visit are eager to ask questions and talk with staff, but most are content to quietly explore the museum on their own. 

My guess is that a lot of the people who visit the museum come here with a sort of pre-loaded mindset: they expect to come into a hushed environment, walk around, look at a few static pieces of artwork, and then leave.  An exhibition like Museum at Work certainly deviates from this expectation, with its capacity for interaction and questioning.  Of course, talking to workers in the museum is difficult when they are, well, working.  This is a rather significant roadblock.  Lots more to think about....

Otherwise, Enaam and I have been working on redesigning the blog and making it a little more user-friendly.  To be fair, the great majority of the credit belongs to Enaam, who has the actual design know-how to make this work, while my contributions have been more along the lines of “look at all the pretty colors!”  Despite my lack of knowledge, it's been a ton of fun coming up with a design and I'm really excited about the new look.  Hopefully we'll be able to work all of the kinks out and get it launched sometime soon!

Measure by Measure

by Ashley Rand

As the Museum at Work project continues, I learn more each week. This week especially allowed me to be more hands on because I was the only intern present on Monday. This enabled me to learn how to handle different situations, such as how to hang artwork on the wall. Normally, we have two to three people working each day, so helpers tend to work in the same area in which they feel comfortable. I absolutely hate using a tape measure, because of the fact that I'm horrible with numbers. However, after spending the entire day measuring, I now feel extremely comfortable. I not only learned how to measure the artwork, but also how to measure for accurate wall hanging. I was intimidated at first, because of all the numbers and adding and subtracting, but it now seems easy to me. In order to hang up a piece of work you need three main measurements: the height of the entire piece that you divide in half, from which you then subtract the distance of the hanger to the top of the piece, and after this, you add 60. The resulting measurement of this equation becomes the point where you place the hook on the wall. This way, each work will be centered at 60 inches, which is a good height for people to view the work. Once all those measurements are done, you measure the distance between hangers for the distance between each hook. I never realized how long it could take to make sure every piece is hung at the exact same level. It is quite interesting that no matter how big or small the piece is, with this formula they will be hung exactly even to each other.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How to Handle Art Handling

by Ashley Rand

This week was quite eventful at CAM. We managed to get a lot of artwork photographed, and learned new ways of taking those pictures. First off, we had difficulty photographing Robert Rauschenberg’s piece Light, from 7 Characters Suite, 1982 because the piece is enclosed in plexiglas for mounting and framing purposes. Once the piece was hung on the wall, a mirror that is part of the piece did not appear as a mirror, so we reflected light onto it with foam core. However, this created a glare on the overall piece, although the mirror was now visible. As a result, we carefully took it off the wall and unscrewed the plexiglas covering. This enabled us to put the piece back up to photograph it with the white foam core reflecting light onto the mirror only. Once the photographs were shot, we made sure to carefully place the plex back onto the artwork.

Another issue we faced this week was dealing with LeCorbusier’s Unite Series. As we were checking the accession numbers on each piece, we realized that there was a problem with a couple of the numbers. So, we had to conduct research to allow us to be able to fix the mistake. This process took awhile, as we searched the internet for the Unite Series. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to match since each site said and showed something different. The next step was to then go into the collection vault and look at the artist’s folder. These folders contain the documentation sheets and the information regarding the series. After reading the documentation sheets we were able to label them correctly. In all, I never realized how much time and effort it would take to fix such errors. I now see why it is important to consider all of the steps it takes when dealing with artwork. I couldn't imagine what the museum would be like if we had to do this every time we photographed something.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blogging Hurdles

by Barbara Cardinale

I spent the entirety of week three working on the blog, as Peter, Shannon, fellow bloggers, and I were eager to go live. There were some humps I had to hurdle over, such as deciding exactly how much I was to edit the blogs, since it related to what type of content we were anticipating to post. Yet, there was no reason to turn mountains into mole hills, as I met with Peter and fellow bloggers to discuss what exactly we all had in mind for our posts. I uploaded bloggers' biographies, and Sarah helped me figure out how to link each biography to the right side bar of this page. We also added a link to Enaam's flickr account. Additionally, I uploaded a photograph of CAM taken by Peter as our trademark for the blog. Lastly, Sarah, Enaam and I looked over the first posts one last time and, presto; we were in business!

Now that the technicalities of the blog have been resolved, I hope to spend more of next week engaging in the initial exhibition project. Until then...

Rainy Day at the Museum

by Enaam Alnaggar

Today was a lighter day in terms of physical work. During the first half of the day, the other volunteers and I moved some artwork out of the vault for photographing. Jasmine reviewed the process of setting up wall hooks again, which was helpful, because she clarified a couple of important things for me, such as how to do the measurements properly. It was a good way to refresh my memory. My least favorite task of the day was hanging the artwork on the wall hooks. I was a little worried that the hanging wire wouldn’t catch onto the hook and I’d drop the artwork, but fortunately, all went well. Things were a little quiet in between photo shoots, so I took a couple of new pictures for our Flickr page.

Later, Peter took a few interns with him to set up an art installation at a corporate site downtown. While he was away, Barbara, Sarah, and I worked on getting the blog up and running. If you take a look at the side bar, you’ll notice links to our individual biographies and our Flickr page, which will be updated with new pictures regularly, so be sure to check back!

When the others returned, we took care of a few more things and headed out. It was a bit of a slower day than last week, but I’ll put the blame on the gloomy weather and the huge downpour we had around noon. Rain always makes people a little sleepy, right?

Up Close and Personal

by Ashley Rand

This week was simply amazing. I was able to look at Roy Lichtenstein’s prints in person. Although we weren't documenting the Brushstroke Figures series, Peter and Shannon pulled each print out in the vault so we could look at them. I was in shock! I have never had the experience of seeing his work up close and personal like that before. It was amazing to see the details and layers used in each piece to create the final project. I could have sat there all day admiring his work. However, we had to move on and get the day's work photographed.

We mainly documented works by Robert Rauschenberg. His work is abstract and simply amazing as well. The main piece was Chinese Summerhall, which he created while traveling and taking photographs. He took over fifty rolls of film with 12 exposures on each, and then narrowed them down to make a collage. He included street scenes, markets, store windows, and everyday life. It was executed beautifully, and flowed together as if you were walking through a day in China. To see it up close gives it so much more beauty than from afar.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Museum Meets the Mind of a Library Student

by Barbara Cardinale

Documenting the Contemporary Art Museum's collection has been an anticipated project for CAM, so Peter Foe, Curator of the Collection, and Shannon Annis, Registrar, put their heads together to create what is now known as the Museum at Work exhibition project.  It’s really wonderful to be a part of such an inventive project and I hope to learn more about the world of art handling and how it relates to library work. 

The first week of the project was decidedly technical.  Peter, Shannon, six other bloggers and I discussed the basics of the blog and what was to be expected of its contents.  Foremost, the individual perspective was stressed as different educational interests in the project will determine invigorating entries.  During the rest of the week, I worked on the blog presence and managed our personal email account.  Peter also asked me to help him set the backdrop for a translucent work by Claus Oldenberg, so a white background was necessary to accurately document the art piece.  

The second week was more hands on, but I was still engaged in working on the blog.  Taking Enaam’s advice, I set up a google documents workspace for us bloggers to more succinctly share our thoughts before publishing them here.  Stepping away from the digital realm a bit, I engaged in helping Peter, Shannon and students/ volunteers transport and store what consisted mostly of large-scale paintings.   Theoretically, moving larger works will help us amateur art-handlers learn the technicalities and precision of the art of moving art.  The Museum at Work project is like a life-exercise in postmodernism.  

Also during the second week, Shannon inculcated to us the semantics of the database program, Embark.  This is an art-storing program that manages, records, locates, dates, compiles, etc. all of the artworks in the collection.  Since there around 5,000 different pieces of art stored in the vault, a digital program like this takes the burden off the human brain.   I am interested in how the museum registrar tracks its inventory because in a library's archives, the provenance of a research collection or personal papers is a vital aspect of acquiring and processing the materials so their place and research value is accommodated for.  I can’t wait until next week when I can meddle with Embark more and further investigate the similarities and differences between the museum registrar and the library archivist. 

Anthropology Meets Museology

by Sarah Crocker

As fascinated as I am in the technical and artistic aspects of this exhibit, such as the photography, databases, and blogging, I'm more interested in the museum guests that will be visiting this exhibition. Museum at Work is certainly different from many art exhibits, or at least from many individuals' conceptions of what an art exhibit should be. Instead of a static collection of pieces that will remain on display for weeks at a time, this exhibit will feature an ever-changing array of works and a near-constant presence of volunteers and interns.

This situation presents an opportunity for visitors to interact with the volunteers and directed study students involved in the project. They will be able to ask questions about the art and the process of documenting it, draw their own conclusions, and hopefully gain new viewpoints and interests in CAM and contemporary art in general. This would be a golden opportunity for us to consider the relationships among workers, museum guests, and the museum environment itself by asking questions such as, "What causes someone to reflect upon art?" "How does an art museum operate behind the scenes?" "What can we do to encourage a visitor's reflection and critical thought regarding these pieces?" Hopefully, we will be able to answer these and many other questions throughout the course of this exhibition.

Details, Details, Details

by Katia Setti 

Amongst other projects, one of the activities I took on this week, together with Shannon Annis, was creating and mounting signs and labels for the show.  I was amazed at how precise this process was.  Up until this point, I would visit museums as an outsider, and not someone behind the scenes and I would overlook the labels or quickly glance at them, paying closer attention to the art work. Even so, I never stopped and thought about the logistics in making signs and labels.  Working behind the scenes has taught me to appreciate such details and small steps required in organizing a successful exhibit.
I would like to share the meticulous nature of this process.  The first step Shannon and I took was to use software specifically designed to create spreadsheets and labels.  We centered each sentence, chose the correct font, and the exact colors.  We then printed the results and had them approved by Don Fuller, the Media Curator.  Once they were approved, all of the signs were reprinted with any new adjustments.  We then mounted one label at a time! We first measured the label, then used the cutting board to cut the mat board, making sure to cut it slightly smaller than the paper.  This was done so that the board remained hidden beneath the paper once the two were attached.  We then used adhesive spray to attach the two, making sure to go outside to avoid the indoors.  We sprayed the mat board, then - depending on the size of the sign - we both gently laid the paper on the board, making sure to align every corner.  We finalized the attachment by patting down the surface with clean cotton gloves.  While this was all happening, we made sure none of the corners were bent and the paper remained in perfect condition.   Lastly, we taped the back of the mat board, making sure the written side was laying safely over a clean, smooth surface.  Finally, we attached the label to the wall.  We measured 60 inches from the floor, which equaled the center of the sign, then added half the height of the paper to figure out where the topmost point of the sign would sit.  Using a level, we attached the sign carefully to the wall.  This process had to be done twice because the label was placed slightly crooked (and when I say slightly, I mean approximately 1/8th of an inch).  Perfection and attention to detail were key to this whole process.   Keep in mind, this is the process of creating, mounting, and displaying just one sign!
Before this experience, I would have walked into the Contemporary Art Museum, looked at the art displayed, and completely taken for granted the "behind-the-scenes" work involved. Every aesthetic detail is extremely important and directly represents the level of prestige the institution carries.  This is a team effort. It's the sum of every member's actions that creates a successful project.  This is especially true in an institution such as CAM. 
I think the Museum at Work project will be a great way to add value to the museum in the eyes of viewers because it will give insiders a chance to share their knowledge with outside visitors.

A Lesson in Moving Art

by Enaam Alnaggar 

I arrived for my first day of work at USF CAM at 10:15, Thursday morning, to find Peter, Shannon and a few volunteers and interns already hard at work, transporting several paintings back to the museum vault. As I checked in, one of the volunteers handed me an info sheet outlining the various procedures involved in the handling and transport of artwork. As I looked over the sheet, I realized that most of the pointers were really just common sense -- never carry more than one piece of work at a time, ask for help when you need it, etc.-- but I wouldn’t realize how involved and meticulous the process was until later. 

For the first half-hour or so, I simply observed, unwilling to wear the little white cotton work-gloves everyone was sporting. Most of the artwork was relatively large and without a doubt extremely valuable. Moving and storing it required a lot of overhead lifting.  Some of the volunteers were even on ladders and it all seemed a bit perilous.  I’ve always thought of myself as a little clumsy and the idea of me dropping or damaging a piece of artwork was horrifying because the value of artwork doesn’t just lie in its monetary worth, but in the time and effort that the artist invested to create it. I’ve always viewed art as an extension of the artist’s spirit and to have that expression wasted is quite a terrible thing. 

Still, I couldn’t hide forever and after watching the others for a while, I grew a little less nervous and more interested in trying it out for myself.  I got my chance soon enough and when I lifted up the painting, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t as heavy as I thought. Moving it was a little stressful at first, especially when you are the one walking backwards. You really have to be aware of your surroundings, so as not to bump or scratch the painting against anything, or worse, trip and drop it. Eventually, however, you get used to the process.  After moving the paintings, we stored them in the upper levels of the vault where Shannon explained to me that in order to prevent damage, all flat artwork must be stored either face-to-face or back-to-back. In all, the whole process truly reinforced Peter and Shannon’s oft-repeated assertion that “moving artwork isn’t just moving artwork.” 

Shannon also demonstrated to a group of us the museum’s cataloging system that is used to keep track of the exact location of each piece of artwork. If you are wondering about the importance of this system, think about this: What would happen if a book was misshelved in a library? It would be equivalent to losing that book forever. What are the chances of finding that one book among the thousands that a library houses? CAM stores thousands of pieces of artwork; finding a lost piece among all that would be like searching for a needle in a haystack. 

We also made a short trip to Graphicstudio to examine a Keith Sonnier piece that needed repairing.  I have to say that I greatly enjoyed my first day of helping out at CAM.  Being around all that artwork and actually being involved in some aspect of it, left me with a very satisfied feeling and I can’t wait to come back next week.