Monthly Archives: August 2010

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‘On yer bike’

Today is the first day of installation of the objects – an exciting moment as one wonders just how everything will really look. We begin with challenges to get the 1909 poster with Serov’s wonderful drawing of Anna Pavlova into one case and Boris Godunov’s wonderful robes into another. The poster just fits through the door but there is a problem with Boris. We have lost his head! Sarah says she know where it must be in the Theatre & Performance Collections at Blythe House so hops on her bike and cycles to Olympia. She returns to the galleries with …

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Graphics

Thursday 26 August Today the graphics were checked and large contextual images elements positioned. Are they the correct height for the average visitor to view comfortably? Are they legible? At what angle should the portrait of Diaghilev be on the opening panel? The map of Russia near the entrance is now sorted and, thanks to Sarah’s now encyclopaedic knowledge of the Trans-Siberian Railway, it shows the train’s original route and not the current one. As we were going round the galleries it was impossible to resist the chance to peak behind the Tyvek covers to see the Firebird backcloth in …

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Changing Manuscript Displays

By Glyn Davies An exciting element of museum displays is that they never stand still – in a very real sense, no gallery project is ever ‘complete’. The Medieval & Renaissance Galleries have been open for over six months now, and the first changes are starting to be made. The pictures accompanying this post show […]

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Late – or early?

Yet another e-mail has arrivedfrom a kind person saying that the V&A is late in mounting their exhibition. I’ve been receiving these ever since the exhibition’s dates were announced. Well exact dates to mark the birth of a company are usually dictated by company propaganda and it is always worth looking at what is being celebrated. Diaghilev’s ‘Saisons Russes’ began in Paris in 1906 with his exhibition of Russian artfollowed by concerts of Russian musicin 1907, the opera Boris Godunov in 1908 and the first evenings dominated by ballet in 1909. But there was no company in 1909. In modern …

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A Look at 2012

A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the construction site for the new Olympic Stadium, in the company of our students on the V&A/RCA Course in Design History. Project architect Philip Johnson (no relation to the great American modernist) and his colleagues from the firm Populous, who designed the structure, gave us a wonderful and revealing tour. Here's a few of the things we learned about planning for a building that will arrest the attention of the world two years from now. Stage Set Architecture. If you've noticed anything about the preparatory renderings for the stadium …

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The Scene is set

Massive progress on build this week but only 11 working days left and all the glass has yet to be fitted. There are over three hundred objects to install so the galleries must be handed over by 31 August. Above Geoffrey March, my co-curator stands in the area in which our Nijinsky material will be displayed. Work has begun on the lighting which, just like lighting in dance productions, will be critical to the overall effect. However, unlike a stage production, we have to ensure that the light levels do not damage sensitive costumes and watercolours. Just as expected the …

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On fallen ground

Last week I was in Athens. Walking around the city Ithought a lot aboutthe relationships between materials and the ground. Stonesextracted from the landscape, carved and builtinto elaborate constructions, then to fall and be abandoned or ripped apart and re-made. At Hadrian’s Library a mosaic floor appears in the dust between the remains of collapsed walls. Close by, upright green shoots pierce the same ground like miniature livingcolumns. Before I went away I made part of a fallen tree based on a scenefrom an enamel painted platein the study galleries. Though ruins often appear in the compositions applied to tableware, …

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On Screen

While construction continues apace downstairs we are finishing checking text and visuals upstairs. Sit down for a run through of all the audio-visual (a/v) elements in the exhibition. A/v is always contentious in exhibitions – some visitors hate them – general visitors often welcome them. They cannot be too long or visitors want benches to sit down and if they are too popular they create pinch points. We have been fortunate that Howard Goodall, the composer and television presenter, has agreed to do some – particularly on the music for the Ballets Russes. It’s the first time we have seen …

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Installation of the cloths

Usually all the case building has to be completed before any objects are allowed in. However Diaghilev is an exception because there are two huge stage cloths which are so big they have to be installed first and the exhibition built around them The Firebird backcloth is 10x16m and probably the largest object in the V&A. It is exciting to see them being carefully unrolled and raised into position by the V&A’s skilled technicians and conservators. The press have been invited in to photograph. As always it is Prince Schervashidze’s copy of Picasso’s Two Women Running on the Beach, created …

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Lumps of Geometry

As I may have mentioned before, I've been working recently on a big exhibition about Postmodernism here at the V&A. One of the most exciting aspects of the project has been making acquisitions: finding objects for the collection that will stay long after the show has ended.

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