Forum for Art Handling 2021
The Swedish forum for Art Handling is a recurrent event for professionals in the field of cultural heritage, art and collections in Sweden.
The Swedish National Heritage Board initiated the forum with the aim to facilitate networking and development in installation, mountmaking, lifting, packing, moving and handling of art and objects.
The 2021 forum took place in October 27-28 as an online event and in a four party collaboration: a regional establishment for art development (Konst i Blekinge), a county museum (Blekinge museum), a regional arena for contemporary art (Kulturcentrum Ronneby konsthall) and the Swedish National Heritage Board. The theme was collaboration on different levels. Collaboration and exchange between professionals in this field, whether it is between the private and public sector or between local or national and international parties, are crucial for the development of best practice, methods and techniques for the handling of objects and exhibition design.
300 professionals were registered for the forum and between 120 and 200 participated live in the online event. When asked to share their job titles in the chat the participants answered with different variations on art handler, curator, collection manager, technician, conservator, storage keeper, exhibition producer, art developer, art administrator, registrar, museum assistant and more. Some of them emphasized that they had several roles at their work, for example curator/conservator or technician/conservator. Both small and large museums and galleries were represented as well as the main logistic companies in Sweden. A few freelancing art handlers took part of the forum, but not as many as we whished for. A challenge for the future is therefore to reach the freelancers and engage them in this community.
A few highlights from the programme:
- Mathew Lacosse, art handler from Nasjonalmuseet in Norway told us about the challenges during the collection move. The title of the presentation speaks for itself: Could this have been simpler? Looking to standard packing solutions for a complex collection.
- Elisabeth Gram Christenssen from the logistics company Møbeltransport Danmark, spoke about the role of the courier, especially important to remember now in times of virtual tracking of art in transit.
- Jessica Åhlgren from the logistics company MTAB, presented the case of a particularly complex loan. The works of Hilma af Klint, the Swedish spiritualistic, once forgotten but now internationally recognized and much appreciated artist, were lent to Australia and New Zealand, during the peak of the pandemic.
- Anna Sannfridsson, Conservator and exhibition producer at Kulturen i Lund, presented the thoughts behind the travelling exhibition about the famous designer Katja of Sweden. The dresses were packed already mounted, and all the exhibition scenery was designed so that it functioned as crating material.
One important insight from the forum was that handling of public art depends on structured management and administration. Another important topic was working for sustainable practice, both environmental sustainability and sustainable access to skills and competences.