One Hundred and One Cartoonists: The Making of an Exhibition

Have you ever wondered how an exhibition comes together?

It always seems so effortless doesn’t it? One day the gallery is full of stuff, the next it’s all changed and looking flawless.

But what happens in between?

The answer, in short, is lots. In long, it is still ‘lots’ but we can go into a bit more detail.

Our story begins about a year ago, when our intrepid adventurer began volunteering in the Cartoon Museum in Little Russell Street, London. He was charmed by the quirky collection and the friendly staff. Now he’s been there a while, he’s seen how things work and can share all the stuff that the average visitor might miss…

The Cartoon Museum has just bid farewell to The Doctor and is now welcoming the collection of Luke Gertler; who has spent the last 55 years collecting cartoon art. This comes after many meetings between Anita, the Curator, and Mr. Gertler to decide which pieces go on the show. Speaking to some of Mr. Gertler’s friends at the Private View, it seems his collection was much bigger than expected.

After the meeting but before the Private View comes the Hanging Day.

Despite the name, no gallows are involved. Rather, it is the day when we take down the old exhibition and put up the new. Usually this only takes a day, usually a Monday which is when the museum is closed. This time, the Hanging was spread over two days because both the new show and the previous had so many pictures!

It is always strange seeing the walls bare of art work, but once the new pieces are mounted and framed it doesn’t take that long for the gallery to fill up again. The process hits some potholes when there aren’t enough drills, braddels and spirit-levels to go around but we’ve learned that I have a gift for getting frames straight with no help from fancy gadgets.

Impressive, no?

Once it’s all up, we put in the labels and get it ready for the public. This always sounds like the simplest part of the process, but we’re always down to the wire getting things just right. Yesterday the finishing touches were being done as the first guests were arriving. No one seemed to notice; in fact they all enjoyed the show.

Brilliant.

By the way, I have a fun factoid to leave you with. You may have noticed that One Hundred and One Cartoonists is a play off the familiar Disney film 101 Dalmatians, what you may not have known is that the film was strongly influenced by the style of Ronald Searle (creator of St. Trinians) and he even provided some concept art for the film.

You can see One Hundred and One Cartoonists at the Cartoon Museum until 29.01.12

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