Reconsidered: Works from the Collection

Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries
April 6, 2021 - August 22, 2021

The Akron Art Museum holds more than 7000 artworks though only 1% are on view. Visitors might wonder why museums leave so much of their collection in storage. While museums are mission-driven to display works for visitors, their dual mission is to preserve collections for future generations. Think of the items you have at home that degrade, like papers that fade in bright light or photographs that curl when wet. Art museums endeavor to prevent such problems. Museum galleries create the ideal conditions to show art, by limiting light and humidity. Even with such care, artworks are often periodically stored to maintain their condition.

Rotating works out of storage is also connected to the goal of informing and engaging patrons. At home, people often display art with sentimental associations or choose works they find appealing. Art museums have a different charge. Artists express meaning visually; museums serve as a sharing platform. In our textual society, decoding visual meaning can be challenging. Museums, therefore, use interpretive tools, like labels and gallery talks, to help patrons make meaning. Curating—bringing art together—can add more layers of interpretation. A common school assignment is to compare and contrast two items, like books or moments in history. When curators bring artworks together in galleries, they set up a similar task for the viewer.

While sharing collections is elemental to museums, as society evolves, so does curatorial practice. In this exhibition, we’re asking for help. We’ll share some of our favorite works from storage, and we’ll ask you to help us to tell better stories about them. We’ll also showcase the stories you share. We can only improve the way we communicate about art with your help.