Museum Loans – Ask The Artsperts

Juliana and Kristine Meek

Juliana and Kristine Meek

Dear Artspert:

Traveling this summer I visited my daughter and son-in-law in Pennsylvania and saw the Eliot O’Hara watercolor exhibition “The Ring of Fire” at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Loretto, Pennsylvania. We were surprised to see that the exhibition was on loan from Naples, Florida. How do museums arrange for exhibitions from your gallery?

Night at the Museum

Dear Night at the Museum,

Packing ArtMuseum personnel have a few options when planning their museum exhibitions. They can mount shows from their own permanent collections, invite single artists to provide exhibitions from his/her studio and/or collectors who own that artist’s works, book in traveling exhibitions such as the Smithsonian’s variety of offerings, create their own exhibitions of a certain theme by borrowing extensively from collectors and other museums; or loan exhibitions from sales galleries/art dealers.

From the standpoint of our own gallery, Harmon-Meek, we have viewed the loaning of exhibitions as a win-win-win. It serves the greater public, promotes our artists and the gallery, as well as a service to our clients and artists. In 1980 Federal grants to museums were slashed by 50% and while this affected all museums, it hurt the regional and smaller museums the most significantly as the federal grants amounted to a larger percentage of their annual budgets. At the same time our father decided that the summer off-season in Naples was also a great time to visit with museum personnel outside the state with thoughts of loaning exhibitions of the gallery’s numerous American masters to those museums.

Packing Art2 So far, we have loaned more than 225 exhibitions at more than 90 museums in 27 states from coast to coast. Aside from the exhibition of Eliot O’Hara in Pennsylvania, this past summer we loaned exhibitions of Bob Kane, Byron Browne, John Baeder, Richard Haas, Tobi Kahn, and Hunt Slonem to museums in Ohio, Florida, and South Carolina.

At this time the Melvin & Burks Galleries at Florida Southern College in Lakeland is hosting a Robert Vickrey memorial retrospective with 55 paintings dating from 1958 to 2011 curated by William Meek from the estate of the artist, various collectors, and the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples. The works needed to be assembled, photographed, inventoried, wrapped in plastic, micro foam, and cardboard, and then shipped using Murray Art Move of Naples to Lakeland where the museum staff installed the exhibition. Our gallery also provided wall descriptions about the artist’s various subjects, mediums, and techniques. Juliana led a “walking docent tour” of the exhibition on September 11th as well.

To better promote our loan program, our father held a booth featuring all the museum exhibitions he can curate for museums of gallery artists at the national American Alliance of Museums convention in Atlanta and at the Southeastern Museums Conference in Jacksonville.

The Artsperts


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