Saturday, November 7, 2009
From MFM Design, design consultants for the exhibition
(Richard Molinaroli, Linda Heinrich, Harry Raab)
We worked with key people within the museum to try to bring out the poetry within Yinka Shonibare’s work in this particular installation. We started to understand the African Art Museum’s vision by talking with Christine Kreamer (Acting Deputy Director), Karen Milbourne (Curator), Lisa Vann (Head of Design) and Doug Johnson (Head of Production). They gave us the freedom to try to imagine something new in the space.
The challenge was to tie an exhibition that was to be located on two separate levels into a unified experience. We made this connection by placing the objects on the lower level in such a way that they reached up to touch the overlook. Some of the pedestals and walls grew taller to fully inhabit the two story space. The lower and upper levels were then visually brought together.
We began by measuring the space, producing floor plans, and then trying out possible ways of placing the objects within the rooms. We worked closely with Karen to understand the possible stories that might come about through different juxtapositions. Together, we came upon a particular way that the objects could live in the space, tell an interesting story, and reveal some spectacular views.
Next, we modeled the museum in the computer, placed the objects into the space and virtually constructed what we had previously mapped out in the floor plan. This helped us to see if the views we had established within the rooms of the museum had successfully tied everything together. We also filled the drawn spaces with the colors of the exhibition’s objects, walls and platforms.
Although just a few still images are shown here on the web site, the scenes were all stitched together to make a short movie which enabled Christine, Karen, Lisa and us to all view the imaginary space together --- and fully understand the possibilities. Karen sent packages of the sequenced images to Shonibare and the other museum venues so that they could see them as well.
Once the exhibition was under construction, we did a mock-up of some platform lighting with Doug and Don Llewellyn (Head of the Carpenter’s Shop)… to make sure that everything turned out exactly right. Lighting is not as predictable as the plywood and drywall parts of the design, and Doug and Don felt that mocking up the real thing was the best way to figure out the solution. The end product, (the platform for the piece Scrambling for Africa),only looks simple because there was so much careful thinking by the people who made it.