Back-of-house comes front and centre in new art exhibition

Behind-the-scenes art secrets will be revealed when The University of Queensland Art Museum launches Workshop.

Work to conserve, prepare and write about artwork that typically happens out of public view ahead of an exhibition, will be at the forefront of the new show opening on 3 June.

Drawing exclusively from the UQ Art Collection, Workshop will present an exhibition ‘in progress’ that invites audiences to learn about art museum processes as they unfold on the gallery floor.

Curated by Isabella Baker and Emma McLean, Workshop will be an energetic and evolving space where visitors can observe the practicalities of caring for a collection, and understand more about how an exhibition is shaped.

“There’s a rapidly growing interest in the work that happens behind closed doors at art museums,” Isabella said.

“We wanted to create an exhibition at UQ that shared more of ourselves as an institution, both in terms of what we’re holding in the Collection stores, as well as our daily work as museum professionals.

“We hope that by having our staff actively working in the gallery space, it will remove some of the secrecy around art museum practices and make a visit to the Art Museum more interactive.

“This means you may come across a staff meeting taking place in the space, a discussion between curators about painting placement, or the registration team removing artwork from specially crafted storage boxes – expect the unexpected!”

Emma McLean said reimagining what an exhibition should traditionally look like was freeing and opened up the creative possibilities.

“In developing Workshop we’ve really had to challenge what we know about curating; moving beyond standard approaches to choosing, hanging and presenting work, and stepping back from the idea that we had to deliver a precisely crafted, perfectly finished exhibition,” she said.

“We hope the result of this experiment is a playful exhibition that delivers a joyful art experience for our community and a new understanding of the Collection.”

Workshop will feature around 60 artworks from the UQ Art Collection, including paintings, works on paper, found objects, assemblages, and wall sculptures.

The exhibition runs from 3 June-9 November. Visit the UQ Art Museum website for information about regular activities being held in the gallery space.

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