The museum is rapidly expanding, and we have enlisted the assistance of many designers and specialists to ensure that the new galleries entice our visitors. As labels and educational materials are being drafted, the designers are also hard at work. One particular design aspect in museums involves mounts that physically support objects so that they can be seen from their best angle. Although such support mounts are rarely ever seen when looking at an object, they are incredibly important and require time and immense precision to produce.
Here at the David Owsley Museum of Art, we have two visiting mountmakers who are taking on the task of making over 500 mounts for our collection. Sculptors Aaron Nicholson and Brose Partington are both graduates of the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis with extensive experience in making mounts. Aaron previously worked with the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), and earned his MFA from the University of Minnesota. Aside from his sculpting work, Aaron also pursues other art forms such as photography, drawing, and painting. He is currently teaching an iron casting workshop at Ball State University.
Brose began his career at the IMA as a preparator, and has opened up his own workshop. He also currently works for the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. Aside from his work as a mountmaker, Brose is also a kinetic sculptor whose work has been exhibited internationally.
I spent a morning with Aaron and Brose to understand their process of producing mounts, some of which take hours to complete. While learning about mounts, I found out that our museum is using metal mounts, as Aaron and Brose agreed that metal is easier to paint and can be made to conform to smaller sizes. Acrylic mounts are also common in museums. Because each mount must conform exactly to the object it is supporting, precision is critical. Aaron and Brose view each mount as a puzzle. While much time and effort is put into the mounts, their intended result is not meant to be seen by visitors. According to Aaron, “If we’re doing a good job, you don’t see what we are doing.”
Since most of these mounts are not typically seen by the public, I wanted to share some photos from my morning with them so that you can also gain an appreciation for all that goes into this process.
So far, Aaron and Brose have made about 225 mounts, and are expected to make about 200 more before the new galleries open.
To learn more about the work of Aaron and Brose, visit their websites and portfolios.