American Studies, Japanese American History, Japanese American Internment, Manuscripts and Archives, Memorabilia Room, Public Humanities, student curators, student exhibitions, World War II, Yale University Library, YUL
This week Yale graduate student Courtney Sato completed her first full item review and preliminary layout exercise for her upcoming exhibition on Japanese American Internment during World War II. This meeting brought together all of the members of Courtney’s exhibition team: faculty advisor, Mary Lui; librarian liaisons , George Miles and David Gary; exhibition production coordinator, Kerri Sancomb; and conservator, Christine McCarthy. It was the first time that Courtney got to see all of the objects together that she has selected from different collections in the Library. This is also the point where a list of objects turns into a layout with 3-dimensional spatial challenges.
Working with space templates of the Memorabilia Room cases created by Sancomb, Courtney and her team could see the visual relationships between the objects in each case and make final decisions about what to keep in, what to move, and what to cut from the show. Lui, Miles, and Gary offered suggestions to shape exhibit content and maximize the visual impact of each case, section, and thematic thread. Sancomb kept track of production issues, photo reproduction requests, and provided some guidance based on her experience with the venue. She also took reference photos of the layouts that Courtney will need to consult for her label copy. McCarthy was on hand to identify any condition issues that might require some treatment and/or mount problem-solving to make display possible without serious risk to the objects.
This is where some of the hardest work occurs for curators (student or librarian, novice or seasoned exhibit curator) – making the final cuts, negotiating the use of facsimiles, and making sure that everything that is essential to telling the story will fit into the fixed space of the actual exhibit cases. Everyone was very impressed with all of the thought, time, and creativity that Courtney put into achieving this critical milestone in her exhibit’s development.
Courtney’s exhibit will open sometime in the fall of 2015 in the Sterling Memorial Library’s Memorabilia Room. It will include collection objects from YUL’s Manuscripts and Archives and the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.