Art Is A Weapon—now open!
Well, the showcases are installed, the frames hung and the room painted. Art Is A Weapon has opened at the museum after months of research, design and planning.
The exhibition shows off a wonderful portfolio of linocuts created by the Melbourne Popular Art Group in 1954, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade. The exhibition displays the works, each individually framed and interpreted, and gives some background and context into the use of the Eureka story to help individual political and social causes.
As an assistant curator on the exhibition, I learned a lot about the process of designing and installing museum displays, and the end result is something I think everyone at the museum should be proud of. A great many people worked very hard to make the exhibition happen on time, often under some difficult circumstances and deadlines. There are always snags and hiccups when producing a product like a museum exhibition, and this one was no exception. Fortunately, the fates were smiling on us, and now Art Is A Weapon is available for all to see!
The exhibition is part of the museum’s ongoing Reflect-Respond module, which explores the use of art as a way of engaging with the democratic process. To install Art Is A Weapon, we first had to remove the Political Porcelain exhibition; a collection of work by artist Penny Byrne, who also used iconic imagery to make a political point. Art Is A Weapon is a very different kind of exhibition, and there are a few things I, at least, am particularly pleased with.
Firstly, the entire exhibition consists of only material held in the museum’s collection. This is a first for this museum, and something I’m very pleased and proud to have helped make a reality. We hold some wonderfully rich and diverse objects in our collection, and hopefully this exhibition will be the first of many in which they are shown to their best potential. I am passionate about using objects to tell stories and about using the existing museum collection before borrowing other material.
As well as that, Art Is A Weapon is very functionally and neatly designed. One of our key ideas was to keep everything as simple as possible, and I think the designers and installers achieved that. The colour scheme looks great and really helps to highlight the objects and artwork. Everyone involved did a terrific job.
I’m proud to have worked on this project and very pleased it’s finally opened. I encourage everyone to come and see it, and to pay attention to the museum website, where we hope to be uploading more information on the exhibition and its contents in coming months.
Art is a Weapon is open at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House until 16 February 2014, in the Living Democracy gallery.