Behind the Scenes of NMC’s Collection: Moving to Studio Bell Part 2

August 04, 2016

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Collections Coordinator Claire Neily and Textile Conservator Gail Niinimaa assemble deadmau5's mau5head for display. Credit: Hayley Robb

Collections Coordinator Claire Neily and Textile Conservator Gail Niinimaa assemble deadmau5’s mau5head for display. Credit: Hayley Robb

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:

 

Mannequins

 

Mannequins dressed and ready to go on exhibit. Credit: Hayley Robb

Mannequins dressed and ready to go on exhibit. Credit: Hayley Robb

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.

Textile Conservator Gail Niinimaa dresses a mannequin in Shania Twain's 2003 Toronto Maple Leaf-inspired stage outfit. Credit: Hayley Robb

Textile Conservator Gail Niinimaa dresses a mannequin in Shania Twain’s 2003 Toronto Maple Leaf-inspired stage outfit. Credit: Hayley Robb

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.

 

Exhibit Mounts

 

Mount-maker Carl Schlichting assembling small instrument mounts in-situ. Credit: Hayley Robb

Mount-maker Carl Schlichting assembling small instrument mounts in-situ. Credit: Hayley Robb

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.

Custom designed and built by Carl Schlichting, this delicate metal mount for Al Cherny's violin almost looks like part of the instrument itself. Credit: Hayley Robb

Custom designed and built by Carl Schlichting, this delicate mount simultaneously holds the violin and its bow in place with a few elegant curves of metal. Credit: Hayley Robb

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

 

The enormous silent film-era instrument expands to fill out the entire Sound Affects gallery. Credit: Hayley Robb

The enormous silent film-era instrument expands to fill out the entire Sound Affects stage. Credit: Hayley Robb

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.

Golden Eagle's Bill Thurmeier and NMC's Jason Barnsley installing the Kimball's many components into place. Credit: Mike Mattson

Golden Eagle’s Bill Thurmeier and NMC’s Jason Barnsley installing the Kimball’s many components into place. Credit: Mike Mattson

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

 

Professional movers and NMC staff work together to get the Trident A-Range settled into its home in the studios. Credit: Hayley Robb

Professional movers and NMC staff work together to get the Trident A-Range settled into its home in the studios. Credit: Hayley Robb

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

Questions or Comments?  Email me at hayley.robb@nmc.ca.

 

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About the Author

Hayley Robb

Hayley is an objects conservator, specializing in the care and treatment of decorative art and historical objects. At NMC, she is responsible for the recovery and reorganization of the electronic parts collection damaged in the flood. Born and raised in Calgary, she is happy to be back in her hometown after 6 years in Ontario.


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