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Displaying Artwork at the Pop Up Museum

Posted by on May 22, 2013

Pop Up Museums can serve different functions, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. They can be a platform for public conversation, a community storytelling space, a creative meet up for an intact group, and an ephemeral exhibit for artists.

Pop Up Museum with the Santa Cruz Public Library

Pop Up Museum with the Santa Cruz Public Library

We had a Pop Up Museum on Altered Books last weekend at the Friend’s of Santa Cruz Public Library’s biannual book sale, providing a temporary display space for artists to display altered books. This pop up was done in collaboration with the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. View pictures from the event on MAH’s facebook album.

An altered book is a book that’s been artistically altered in some way— painted, rewritten, turned into sculpture, changing the book’s original form and/or meaning.

Placed amidst overflowing rows of for-sale library books, the Pop Up Museum prompted people to think about books in different ways.

The library also offered an altered books workshop where people could fold old books, giving anyone the opportunity to have something to display.  View the altered books here.

People enjoyed sharing their altered books, but displaying artwork at the pop up museum can be tricky. For one, pop ups are hands on museums. We don’t put things behind glass. We don’t have guards. This type of exhibit can lend itself to more intimate interactions, but it can also subject the art to potential damage.

Altered books displayed in open frames.

Altered books displayed in open frames.

People have responded well to the pop up’s casual, open design. Visitors mention they love being able to touch the objects, and so far, nothing has been damaged. We like giving people the opportunity to touch things. It’s a chance for us to enable a tactile interaction with museum content. If displaying art or artifacts of significant value, vitrines or “please don’t touch signs” could be used. But for now, we’ll continue to use open, hand-me-down frames.

As we develop the pop up museum project, we’ll continue to work on building a format that is simple and replicable in diverse venues and for diverse reasons. Here are some things we discovered are helpful to have at all pop up museums:

A pop up tent: tents create a sense of space and can also be used to hang signs 2d works.

Clear, large signs: we like to have a welcome sign and an instructions sign, and a brief curatorial sign that introduces the given theme.

Blank frames: Frames allow people to touch objects, while still presenting the objects as pieces of art.

A workshop component: depending on the theme, a workshop gives anyone the opportunity to have something to display.

Thank you to the SC Public Library and the Friends of the SC Public Library for helping this museum POP

Thank you to the SC Public Library and the Friends of the SC Public Library for helping this museum POP

This was also the first pop up we’ve done outside, but it won’t be the last. Join us this Sunday, June 2nd from 1-3 for a Pop Up Museum on GROWTH at the UCSC Arboretum. Bring something you have grown or something that has helped you grow and display it amongst the Arboretum’s beautiful spring greenery.

The Pop Up Museum will take place in the Australian garden and will be complimented by an optional garden tour beginning at 2:30. In honor of the event, the Arboretum will stop charging admission at noon on this day.