Installing El Anatsui

By Ashley Weinard, NCMA Educator and Project Director, The Big Picture

El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa opens at the North Carolina Museum of Art this Sunday, March 18. The exhibition traces the career of contemporary artist El Anatsui—from his early woodwork in Ghana to today’s metal wall sculptures created in his studio in Nigeria.

This cool time-lapse video makes the installation of the El Anatsui exhibition look easy! However, installing a work by El Anatsui requires a lot of problem solving. The works are large, malleable, and heavy. They are not framed like a traditional painting on canvas; nor does the artist give any direction about how his works should be displayed. It is up to museum curators, art handlers, and conservators to hoist the metal works onto the wall and determine their final design.

NCMA conservator Perry Hurt describes the problems he faced when he first installed the Museum’s Lines That Link Humanity and his discovery of a special tool (chopsticks!) that made the work much easier.

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