Visible Storage

One of two visible painting storage and study areas at the Clyfford Still Museum. Photo: Peter Ogilvie

Not / On View: Visible Storage

Posted on November 5, 2014

This fall marks the third anniversary of the Clyfford Still Museum. Earlier this month, after opening its tenth original exhibition, the Museum displayed its 500th work by the artist. The clip at which the Museum has been displaying these formerly hidden gems has averaged more than a dozen new works per month. More than 50 previously unseen works have been unrolled and inventoried in the last two months alone. Even so, cataloguing, preserving, and mounting Clyfford Still’s art will be an ongoing process for many more years to come. The Museum is home to about 825 paintings and more than 2,300 works on paper. (And tens of thousands of archival materials, as well, but that’s another story…)

Assistant Curator and Collections Manager Bailey Harberg Placzek prepares to hang another painting.

Assistant Curator and Collections Manager Bailey Harberg Placzek prepares to hang another painting.

All of this begs the question—especially given the monumental proportions of Still’s later canvases: What to do with all these works of art? And if the situation wasn’t challenging enough already, the Donation Agreement for the Clyfford Still Collection stipulates that storage for all of the paintings of the collection, to the greatest extent possible, “are to be hung in chronological order for study.” This means the Museum can’t just conveniently shuffle things in its storage areas on the ground floor to make way for new work. All items need to fit together both physically and chronologically.

Careful planning allows an entire rack to be filled with paintings from the same time period, with little to no leftover space.

Careful planning allows an entire rack to be filled with paintings from the same time period, with little to no leftover space.

Registrar Emily Kosakowski and Bailey Harberg Placzek, assistant curator and collections manager, have been honing their expertise with this outsize challenge for years. The result is an increasingly rich experience on the Museum’s ground floor, where visitors can peek into the racks of painting storage to see a growing number of framed works of art, large and small, to complement the works on view in the galleries upstairs. We hope our guests enjoy seeing new pieces added to the mix!

painting image

PH-185, 1945, resting comfortably in its new home

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