Crating Elements

The exhibitions that OEC designs and produces need to arrive at their destinations safely. This is especially crucial with traveling exhibits, like the ones we make for the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), because these objects are handled more frequently than those in permanent exhibits.

SITES registrars Ruth Trevarrow, Cheryl Washer, and Juana Dahlan were at OEC recently packing up Beyond: Visions of Planetary Landscapes and The Dancer Within. One of their main goals is to ensure that objects travel safely and are easy to remove from the packing. This includes thinking about whether the person unpacking the objects may hurt their back by bending over too far to remove a heavy object and also making the process to remove an object simple and easy-to-understand.

Harry Adams, OEC specialist in artifact and exhibit packing, uses the crate specifications document sent to him by SITES to design and build crates for the objects and accompanying labels or cases. For Beyond, Adams made what Trevarrow calls “the Cadillac of crates.”

To protect the large, heavy framed photographs, Adams made crates with felt-lined slots the photographs could easily slide into. The photographs are so large they need to be stored vertically so the crates will fit through the doors of all the exhibition venues. The photographs used for Dancer are smaller and due to the manner in which they are mounted, they need to travel lying flat. They are placed in foam trays that are then stacked on top of each other in the crate.

Collaboration and good communication between the registrars, designers, and the crate makers is necessary to produce crates that will be easy to use and best protect the objects inside.

top photo: Trevarrow slides a Beyond photograph out of the crate.
middle photo: Packed Beyond crates.
bottom photo: Adams arranges foam trays made by Tim Smith.

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