A Backstage Pass to Art in the IMA

Three years ago, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) went through a complete ima view of frontrenovation of its storage facility. New accommodations were built, a bigger space and several rooms added; many new areas were created to allow the people who run the museum to better run the museum, and give the artwork more breathing space.

On Thursday, October 29, 2015, our Art History of China class took a trip to the museum for a back stage tour. Our tour guide was a man who our Hanover contact, Erin Hornbach, later called part of the dream team because he and a few others get to build the boxes which store the artwork and carry the artwork to the area of its exhibition. These would be the people who get to physically interact with the art.

Since we left campus at noon, we arrived at the IMA around 2 PM and immediately began a tour with a brief introduction on framing artwork. What I thought would be a tour of the museum and Chinese display, turned into a backstage pass to a view most people don’t get when they go to the IMA. We passed through a long maze of statues and large-scale paintings with rows going all the way to the back of a large room about the size of a basketball court. It was a deep look into the work it takes to put on exhibitions.

One thing we saw was a bronze model of a Chinese pagoda with bells all around it and a miniature Buddha in each level of the pagoda. This model was fascinating because we were just learning about the Buddhist pagodas in class, and now we got to see a real life model. This along with a South Pacific life-size statue caught my attention as the statue head was made with a real life skull, perfect for the upcoming Halloween weekend.

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As a few hours passed by of our inner look of the museum, time came for our tour guide to get back to work and leave us back in the hands of Professor Wu. This time we did go through the gallery portion of the museum where we walked around and talked about each piece of artwork we saw. Since there was no Chinese exhibit up at the moment, Wu took us to the Chinese section and had us go back on our timeline of Chinese history as we saw sculptures going in chronological order. The display went from the early Yang Culture on to the Zhou Culture, reinforcing his class lectures on a regular Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Wu ended the class lecture on a brief chat with Erin again, getting a brief lecture in life and what comes after college. All truly beneficial since all but one in the class, were seniors and we all have been a bit tightened up on the subject of graduation and what comes after.

Dinner at Cracker Barrel and a sleepy drive home ended our long day with an arrival at the Campus Center around 9 PM. A swift good night to all our classmates and a sweet thank you to our Professor Wu before we all headed back to our beds.

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