Dynastic by Design: How The Field Museum Built the Nation’s Largest Chinese Historical Museum ExhibitMuseums, News etc., South Loop No Comments »
By Nona Tepper
“When I look at it straight it looks straight, but when I look at it sideways it looks crooked, ” says Jaap Hoogstraten, director of exhibitions at the Field Museum.
The man paces in front of an arch decorated with red, blue and gold images of ancient Chinese life. The air smells like dust, and a saw grinds on a bench in the middle of the gallery. Project manager Tom Skwerski stands behind him.
“It’s tricky to do an immersive environment,” Skwerski says. “We don’t want to look like a Chinese restaurant.”
The men are standing in the Cyrus Tang Hall of China, an upcoming exhibit at The Field Museum slated to open just three months from that day. The arch is stenciled with what look like the same designs that decorate the entrance gate to Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, but is it crooked? Hoogstraten and Skwerski have had this debate before, Hoogstraten says. Perhaps they’ll have it again. The men walk away and start talking about what still needs to be done. The nearly 400 objects need to be mounted; the mounts need to be attached to bases; the bases need to be covered in decorative felt. The producers need to speed up the slideshows on Chinese dynastic history and, speaking of technology, the technology for the projections of Neolithic China still needs to be developed.
The men have three months. Read the rest of this entry »