We are now 48 hours away from opening the First World War nursing exhibition, and the fun is getting fast and furious! Our carefully worked out schedule for installing the exhibition has been rewritten several times, as one cancellation can create an alarming knock-on effect. But it’s been an exciting week – the agonising over the colour scheme was worthwhile as the exhibition room is now painted a lovely pale blue, with interpretation panels of a rich corn colour. The belongings of the First World War nurses are beautifully arranged in the display cases, and the archival material is up on the walls. The last thing to go up is the ten oil paintings that will form the centrepiece of the exhibition – and then we are good to go! As I write, members of the team are obsessively wiping non-existent marks of the glass of the display cases, and straightening out objects by a fraction imperceptible to the human eye.
Our top pieces of advice for installing an exhibition in a small museum are as follows:
- 1. Always factor in more time than you think will need. Buffer zones are your friend!
- 2. If lenders allow it, collect loaned items early so you have them on site.
- 3. Prioritise marketing above creating the display – journalists will lose interest in a millisecond and you may never get that chance of coverage again.
- 4. Face the fact that all other areas of your work will be seriously neglected, and just hope to catch up later on!