Michelle Barger and Christine Frohnert examining a Glut sculpture

Robert Rauschenberg created the Glut series (1986-89/1991-94) by manipulating found scrap metal into sculptural reliefs and assemblages. These complex artworks have variable structures with flexible, kinetic, and/or technological components. The Gluts’ physical complexities present challenges for storing, handling, and shipping, as does their weight, size, and quantity and the staff at the Foundation seeks a storage solution where the artworks can be adequately supported in storage and shipped for loans. Ideally, the objects’ storage mounts will be easily transformable into shipping supports and be visibly accessible for staff and researchers.

As a Graduate Fellow at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (RRF), I worked with Voices in Contemporary Art (VoCA) supervisor and Head of Conservation at SFMOMA, Michelle Barger; Winterthur/Unviversity of Delaware Prgram in Art Conservation (WUDAPC) supervisor Dr. Joelle Wickens; and RRF Head of Art Services, Thomas Roach, to organize a two-day Study Day event to generate ideas and solutions that the Foundation’s staff can implement in-house for the large collection of artworks that remain in storage while not on loan. 

Ten collection and conservation professionals gathered at the RRF’s warehouse in July to present on their experience storing, shipping, and installing complex artworks; examine Glut case studies and discuss strategies; and share recommendations, concerns, and solutions. At the end of the two day event a summary of findings was produced.

Michelle Barger, Meg Colbert, William Donnelly, and Thomas Roach discussing handling trays.

Participants included:

Lauren Shadford, Executive Director, Voices in Contemporary Art

Michelle Barger, Head of Conservation, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Meg Colbert, Director of Production, Boxart Inc.

William Donnelly, Assistant Preventive Conservator, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Christine Frohnert, Owner, bek&frohnert LLC

Jennifer Myers, Graduate Fellow, Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation

Thomas Roach, Head of Art Services, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation 

Paul Speh, Fine Arts Packer, Brooklyn Museum

Natalya Swanson, Graduate Fellow, Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation

Joelle Wickens, Associate Director & Assistant Professor, Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation

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