Renovated Museum Rejuvenates Attendance, Inspires Films

Story posted February 14, 2008

Build it and they will come, but renovate and expand it, and they will come in droves.

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art, which reopened October 14, 2007, after a two-year, $20.8 million expansion and renovation project, is attracting hordes of visitors.

Putting It All Together

A time-lapse look at the Halford Gallery's inaugural exhibition installation by artist and Bowdoin Museum of Art Assistant Preparator Peter Shellenberger.

(View using Quicktime)

Prior to the renovation, the Museum averaged about 20,000 visitors per year. Since reopening in the fall, the Museum has already welcomed more than 16,000 people through the doors of its inviting and dramatic new entry pavilion.

A Quick Look

Many of those visitors spend hours experiencing the newly renovated galleries and absorbing the Museum's wondrous exhibitions, including the Assyrian reliefs now bathed in natural light allowed by the addition of the expansive glass curtain wall.

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Peter Shellenberger

An insider shares his unique perspective on the arduous preparation that went into the Museum's inaugural exhibitions, and does so with a humorous touch.

Artist and Museum of Art Assistant Preparator Peter Shellenberger has produced short and engaging time-lapse videos that encapsulate in moments the days of careful installation.

Putting It All Together II

A time-lapse look at the hanging of Fragment of a Relief Depicting a Sleeping Hercules (323 B.C.-1 B.C.) in the Northend Gallery by artist and Bowdoin Museum of Art Assistant Preparator Peter Shellenberger.

(View using Quicktime)

Shellenberger's subjects include the Herculean effort involved in mounting a sculpture fragment in the Northend Gallery and the entire installation of the Halford Gallery's inaugural exhibition.

For these films Shellenberger set up a digital video camera programmed to take two seconds of footage every five minutes. Though both projects took two days in real time, the edited films show the feats accomplished — start to finish — in minutes.

The installation films capture the frenetic pre-Museum-reopening atmosphere and render it even more dynamic, with Shellenberger's creative time-lapse editing accentuated by original music he composed himself.

Shellenberger says he was inspired by the sheer excitement generated by the Museum's reopening. "It's not every day that a museum comes back to life," he says.

Pavilion in Snow
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A look at the Museum's new entry pavilion as seen through the lens of artist and Bowdoin College Museum of Art Assistant Preparator Peter Shellenberger.

(View using Quicktime)

"What I wanted to document and convey is the energy that goes into installing an exhibit through condensing time. I hope that these films help make the Museum more accessible for people who usually do not get to see what goes on behind the scenes."

In a brief film Shellenberger calls Pavilion in Snow, the viewer is treated to a 360-degree tour of the dramatic entrance, enhanced by new snow and reflections caught in the glass panes.

Orbiting the pavilion with a digital still camera, Shellengberger took more than a hundred photos that were then imported into filmmaking software for approximately a third of a second each, resulting in a film that is mere seconds long.

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