Tips for hanging pictures: Always pin at eye level, measure twice, hammer once, use a weight-appropriate picture hook — and try not to destroy the wall or the art while you are at it. It isn't difficult; it's not rocket science; anyone can do it.
But what if the framed pieces are, let's just say, worth millions, priceless — and not yours?
Exhibitions go up and come down at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston all the time. As a popular destination for some of the most exquisite traveling collections, curators and their assistants receive, unpack, inspect and install irreplaceable artifacts as often as they change their underpants, but without taking for granted that slow and steady wins the race.
Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado, presented by BBVA Compass and BBVA Compass Foundation, opens at the MFAH on Sunday (Dec. 16.) More than 100 Spanish paintings that chronicle the development of the genre, from the 16th through the 19th century, are in the process of being installed in the galleries of the Audrey Jones Beck Building, and CultureMap was invited to observe.
Turns out, the hubby married his mistress after Joanna expired, which raised rumors of foul play.
While MFAH preparators Russ Lane, Michael Crowder, Jason Storrs and Chris Huron handled Anthonis Mor's Joanna of Austria (Doña Juana de Austria) with white-glove care, Museo Nacional del Prado senior curator of Spanish painting Javier Portús told the tale of the unhappy Grand Duchess of Tuscany, who fell to her death while pregnant with her eighth child. Turns out, the hubby married his mistress after Joanna expired, which raised rumors of foul play.
Álvaro Perdices, exhibitions coordinator at the Prado, and Zahira Véliz Bomford, senior paintings conservator at MFAH, pored over Francisco Rizi's The Annunciation with a fine tooth comb. Actually, it was with with a headband magnifier.
Rolling down the gallery on a dolly, preparators Joseph Cowart and Robert Kimberly installed Mariano Fortuny's Elderly Nude Man in the Sun. Once Jusepe de Ribera's Saint Andrew was secured, it was time for a recess.
It may have been just another day at work for these cool, level-headed handymen, but the room was tense with the possibility that something could go wrong at any moment. Can you imagine?
Thankfully, all we could do was imagine.