The Office of Exhibits Central (OEC) has been working with the Smithsonian Women's Committee (SWC) to prepare exhibit graphics for their 27th Annual Smithsonian Craft Show, on view from April 23 through April 26, 2009, at the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C. Established in 1966 to advance the interests of the Smithsonian through fundraising activities and special projects, the SWC has contributed immeasurably to the educational, outreach, and research programs of the Institution. The Craft Show–the committee's most important fundraiser–provides a venue for American craft artists to exhibit their work in the nation's capital, and its Silent Auction allows collectors across the country to participate in on-line bidding in order to purchase a portion of the works of art. Approximately 120 artists are selected by a three-member jury which reviews thousands of entries, making the Craft Show a preeminent display of American crafts.
Kathleen Varnell trims the exhibitor booth signs for the Annual Smithsonian Craft Show
Kathleen Varnell, OEC's project manager for the show, has collaborated with the SWC on the last three events. Varnell determines the scope of work based on the committee's needs, and then develops the graphic identity. Graphics range from directional labels mounted to mat board, to informational posters attached to foam-core, to a massive 31'(l) x 9'(w) hanging banner which is suspended from the upper arcaded balcony of the multi-tiered interior of the National Building Museum.
The Smithsonian Women's Committee Craft Show banner
Ensuring that exhibitors and visitors to the Craft Show know how to navigate through the many display alcoves is an important part of the way-finding signage. OEC also stores, and annually refurbishes, the SWC's exhibit cases which hold the Silent Auction pieces.
Silent Auction display
As Varnell noted, "From an artist's standpoint, the Craft Show is the crown jewel of craft exhibitions. Being an artist myself, the opportunity to meet the artists and see what they are doing is an inspiration, and encourages me to push harder in my own work. I also enjoy buying pieces directly from the artists during the show; I like knowing who made it, and that I am helping the SWC with such a worthwhile cause. And working alongside the members of the Women's Committee is a sheer joy."
Exhibitor booth with signage
The high quality of the material on display has guaranteed the event's success and popularity. By organizing and producing the Annual Smithsonian Craft Show, the Women's Committee continues to provide significant support not only for American craft artists and collectors of their work, but also for the future mission of the Institution.
Smithsonian Women's Committee Craft Show in 2010
photos 1-3: Theresa Keefe
photos 4-6: Kathleen Varnell