How to solve the museum storage problem

November 19 2014

Image of How to solve the museum storage problem

Picture: Museo Prado

Now this is what I call a picture hang (as tweeted by the Prado earlier today to celebrate their 195th birthday). Which would you rather experience as a gallery visitor: fewer pictures with acres of space around them, and great works still in store; or more pictures on display, but hung closely together like this?

I'd go for the latter, with binoculars available to borrow. 

Update - a reader writes:

Well, I am with you half-way. For grand rooms, yes the old-fashioned hang could be a good way to see more art out of storage and even kind of fun (doesn't the Wallace in London do this, now?). But could we have as well smaller rooms where selected pieces are presented in some semblance of their original settings, such as altarpieces on plain altar-like structures and rooms with domestic art furnishings?  I expect this is anathema to curators (or am I wrong?), but what about the rest of us?

This is one reason I loved the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston - they go for the occasional crowded hang, and in other rooms hang pictures with relevant objects, such as furtniture and sculpture. 

Update II - another reader writes:

Nice photo from the Prado in days of old.

I wonder if it worth starting an on-line petition to get the Tate Britain Duveen Galleries rehung to the maximum? A grand 18/19th Century Royal Academy-style hanging.

The Art Fund arrange projects through crowdfunding these days.

Update III - a reader adds this memory of a trip to the Sorolla Museum:

When reading about the proposal to hang arrange the pictures "old-style", i disliked the notion at first.

But then I remembered my visit to Madrid's Sorolla museum. I fondly remember it as being one of my favourite museums, with quite an intimate atmosphere.

The walls are filled with sorolla works from bottom to top.

I'd be curious to see some modern museums attempt it. Altough it may be more suitable for a wood-furnished artist's atelier than for a stark white museum hallway. (since many museums nowadays resemble nothing more than a collection of corridors).

While another reader sends this image from the Frye Museum in Seattle:

I agree with you, I would rather have more on display and less wall space, which leads me to dwell on the color of the wall rather than the art.

We are fortunate to have a small gem of a museum in Seattle, The Frye Museum.  The Frye Museum along with contemporary exhibitions displays the original 232 paintings purchased by Charles and Emma Frye and left to the city for all to enjoy, and we do.

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