Mary Shelley and Frankenstein || Exhibition Behind the Scenes

Hello everyone and welcome to the Wordsworth
Museum. This week we are installing our new exhibition ‘In Search of Mary Shelley: The
Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein’. We are going to be filming the whole process during this
week, so you’ll get to see an exhibition from start to finish, so from something that looks
like this – empty and echoey – to a finished exhibition by the end of the week. The exhibition
opens on Saturday 5 May. It is Monday 30 April now, so we’ve got the full week to get things
ready. Right. I am going to propose that we start
at one end and walk to the other, we put these up for the panels, and I’d suggest we bring
the glass case over there so we have two nice glass cases, and when that one is on the wall
we’ve got all of the modern ones together. You alright with that? Yes. Knowing you, you’ve
probably got this on super fast speed so that as we go round it will go duhduhduh. Yeah it will be. Hello, it is lunch time on Monday
afternoon and we are just taking a quick break. So this morning we have been putting up different
notes on the walls to remind us what is going where. We’ve had this laid out on paper for
quite some time, but when you move into the room things never necessarily work out the
way that you imagine, so it is always good to lay things out, have a run through of where
things are going, and you can work out any problems that come up, for example showcase
spacing or spacing of portraits, how things are going to look in certain lights – just
all of those things that you really need to be in the room for to be able to see. So you
can see we’ve got these little notes around the walls here, and this afternoon we are
going to start bringing in some of the artworks and some more of the books for the showcases. Good morning! It is day two of our exhibition
installation. Yesterday went pretty well – as you can see we’ve got several of the paintings
up on the walls, and we’ve got most of the books in their cases. My task for today is
to get on with writing our labels. We’ve got a few in place already but we need to write
a few more, so that’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of the morning. So I am just sitting
down to write some labels at the moment, and I am working my way around each showcase,
making sure we’ve got labels for everything. So when you write an exhibition label you
want to have the basic facts, so for example this one I am working on at the minute is
for John William Polidori’s 1819 novel ‘The Vampyre’. You want to have the basic facts
there: the date it was published, who it was by – so here we have ‘John William Polidori
based his 1819 novel ‘The Vampyre’ on Byron’s ‘Fragment’. Along with ‘Frankenstein’, this
is one of the ghost stories written at Villa Diodati, and became the first modern vampire
story. The book is open to show the preface, in which Polidori describes the events at
Villa Diodati.’ And then we’ll have a credit line to show the book belongs to the Wordsworth
Trust and an acknowledgement of who gave it to us. Good morning everyone. It is day three of
the exhibition installation, and I am going to start this morning by painting in the mirror
plates on the artworks that we have on the wall. You might be able to see at the moment
the mirror plates are brass coloured, and to help the paintings blend into the wall
and have the mirror plates not stand out we will paint them the same colour as the wall,
so I am going to do that first. So this can be quite a tricky job and you’ve got to take
care. We’re not too bad with these frames because these are all new frames, but if you
are painting mirror plates on gilt frames or frames that have historical significance
or are original to the artwork, you obviously want to make sure that you don’t get any paint
on them whatsoever. I’m going to use a little brush, and we are just going to go round.
It will probably take a few coats to blend them in completely. Good morning! So we’re on day four of the
‘In Search of Mary Shelley’ exhibition installation, and this morning I’ve come in and am very
pleased to find that our panels have been delivered for the exhibition. These have been
designed by the lovely Helen Belshaw, who we’ve worked with on previous exhibitions,
and she’s created these lovely panels. We have 10 of these altogether, so I think I
am going to get on with sticking these up, and then I think the room will start to look
much, much closer to being finished. Once you get the panels up it always has that kind
of finished look. So in this showcase at the minute we have
not one, not two, but three editions of ‘Frankenstein’. This is the first edition here, and this morning
Beccy and Poppy, who are my fellow Assistant Curators, have been cradling these books.
They are pretty amazing. Here in the second edition, you can see the famous lines ‘It
was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils.’ ‘I
saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open’. And it is not often that these books get together,
as you can see, so it is pretty cool. The room is looking pretty messy at the moment,
but we are getting there. We’re making good progress. Right! Right. How do you think it
is going so far Jeff? I think it’s great. I think it is just great – the way it’s coming
together. It is wonderful. Yes I agree. You can see by my expression [laughs] but I think
it is wonderful. I think it is magical the way it is coming together. It is going to
be great. It is already great. So we, just for vlogging purposes, me and Jeff have just
been through the whole room and laid out all of the labels, all of the panels, and have
done a big run through of everything to make sure it all ties together. And making sure
that one follows another really, isn’t it? To make sure that you don’t get to the 15th
exhibit and have no idea where it fits in to the whole story. And we feel like we’ve
done pretty well! I think it reads like a great story; the way the big panels and the
exhibits and little labels all fit together, I think it is fantastic. I think we can eat
our lunch feeling OK about the world. Agreed. Yes! It is so very different to the book,
that’s the crazy thing. Here he gets lifted up and exposed to lightning. It is all lightning,
lightning isn’t it? It’s great! Electricity everywhere. Well Melissa, we’ve done it. We’ve done it.
We’re surrounded by creatures and electricity, frogs and books – lots of books [amazing books],
nice paintings… and there is that variety that we look for. So when we are standing
here, we’re watching two films, looking at a cartoon, but behind us we’ve got the first
edition of Frankenstein and at the far end the hotel register. Yeah. So, we’ve been doing
this for five days now [yeah], hasn’t it gone fast? I feel like it has gone really fast.
It has had its own momentum. It has. And then some moments it seemed like there is just
too much to do, and some moments it seemed like it’s going to happen. And it is not even
half past five on a Friday [No! We’re done, can’t believe that!]. I can’t believe it.
Well it has been really fun, I’ve really enjoyed it. It has been great fun. It has been very
nice to work on. And it has give us a result that we think people will enjoy. Time will
tell [laughs]. But hopefully there is something to stop everybody, even if it is just one
thing [yes, I think so]. I hope that everyone will find something, at least one thing, of
interest. I think I just love seeing all these lovely books too. The pleasure of seeing the
books – things you can read [yes], the title pages, but also the covers – there is such
a pleasure in seeing the different colours and materials and designs. The colours really
blend well together I feel, throughout the whole room, with the panels and the earthy
tones, because the books kind of compliment that don’t they? They do. It’s great. Still
the vacuuming to do. Yeah, we’d better do the vacuuming.

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