August 04, 2016
If you missed the first part of our Collection Move series, check out Part 1 here.
Over the past year at NMC, the collections department has been preparing artifacts for the move to Studio Bell. While we thankfully had a lot of time to plan and prepare, the actual window of time to move everything over and set up the exhibition spaces was pretty tight.
But, as they say, you need some pressure to make a diamond—and Studio Bell’s glittery new exhibit stages prove just that.
To make the transition run smoothly, NMC brought in several specialists from around the country to help us set up the exhibition spaces. Below are just a few of the activities that went on behind-the-scenes to prep the amazing exhibits for opening day:
To display the many super-cool costumes and historical outfits from some of Canada’s musical stars, NMC commissioned local textile conservator Gail Niinimaa to create customized mannequins for our textile artifacts.
While some of the mannequins came in standard dimensions (that is, if you consider Shania Twain’s tiny waist standard), and could be drafted and cut using a computer design program—others had to be specially crafted to fit the musician’s unique outfits or body types.
Whether it was adding a special insert to deadmau5’s mannequin that could support his massive mau5head, or carving a “codpiece” for Triumph singer Rik Emmett’s skin-tight onesie, Gail proved to be up to the challenge.
The main goal of an artifact display mount—other than supporting the item—is to be discreet, simple, and unobtrusive. If done right, exhibit mounts are hardly even noticed at all. So you can be forgiven for not initially noticing the beautiful mounts created for the small artifacts on exhibit at Studio Bell.
All mounts were designed and made by British Columbian mount-maker Carl Schlichting, and employ a newly developed, pressure-mounted system to hold the instrument mount to its support rod. This system allows us to slide the portion of the mount that is attached to the artifact on and off the larger support rod, without having to unscrew it from the base. These mounts are expertly crafted to strike a perfect balance between safely holding the item in place, while not distracting from the artifact itself.
Kimball Theatre Organ Restoration
Featuring prominently on the third floor of Studio Bell is the gigantic Kimball Theatre Organ. Expanding across the entire stage, visitors are treated to daily performances and demonstrations on this 1920s-era instrument.
Before being installed for exhibition, the Kimball was shipped to Saskatchewan for a conservative restoration and cleaning by the Golden Eagle Organ Company.
During the weeks leading up to opening, organ technician Bill Thurmeier—along with NMC’s resident organ technician and musician Jason Barnsley—worked diligently to restore the organ back to playable condition before installing the multi-part instrument into its permanent home in the Sound Affects stage.
Large Artifact Move
Luckily for us, the move from NMC’s old building at Customs House into our new digs at Studio Bell was a relatively short trip—only a few blocks.
While this meant transportation of the smaller artifacts was pretty easy, the larger artifacts still required an entire team of professional movers and NMC staff to get them in place.
Take the Trident A-Range recording console for instance. Unlike the later Olympic console, which was designed to break down into smaller, modular pieces, the vintage A-range console was built into one, 11-foot, 800 pound frame.
Weeks of strategizing and planning went into this move (years, if you include the freight elevator being designed to accommodate the massive console).
The best laid plan, in this case, did work out.
The console fit in the elevator, and the 8-person team of movers were able to successfully hoist the console through a viewing window into its spot in the studio—ready for artists in residence to record with in the fall.
As you can see above, the collections team had a lot of help completing the move to Studio Bell. Though situated in Calgary, we relied on experts from around (and outside of) the province to complete the monumental task of outfitting Studio Bell with its ground-breaking exhibitions.
Now that everything is in place, come check us out!
– Hayley Robb
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