Today was just one of those days. This semester my department is working with Prof. Robert Harrist and 9 PhD students for a seminar entitled "Chinese Art at Columbia." I was the impetus behind this in that I first presented to him last semester the idea of having students study objects in the collection, especially the works from China on display in our gallery in Low Library. The installation in this room quite literally had not been touched in over 40 years, which means no one had ever done research on them since they were donated by Arthur M. Sackler (yes, that Sackler!) from the 1960s and 1970s. This graduate seminar has begun, and the students are doing their first assignment already, researching and writing about some of our bronze vessels from the Shang and Zhou dynasties (ca.1650-ca.250 BCE). Today, my staff and I moved about 100 objects out of the main gallery space, put most of them in storage, and then reinstalled the Shang and Zhou bronzes in display cases near the seminar room so the students have easier access to them. The photograph you see at the bottom is the new display we set up for the Shang dynasty ritual bronzes. We then did a temporary installation in the original gallery space, putting in 9 cases a selection of Korean ceramics that are also from the Sackler donation. The photograph above is what 3 of those display cases now look like. When the seminar is over, the research by the students will help us reenvision a new installation in the gallery for the Chinese art, with proper signage to educate people about the works, and make them all look better and more up-to-date with modern backdrops.
I confess that I'm extremely proud with how it all worked out today. The installation of the bronzes and ceramics in the cases all came out even better than I had hoped. It was a full day of work to get it all accomplished, and LGS and LV (my staff) did a wonderful job packing and moving everything back and forth between buildings, but it was definitely worth it. We're Art Properties. And we rock!