Renoir works handled with posterity in mind
Monday, June 14th, 2010
The next major show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art opens on Thursday, featuring 80 works by the beloved French Impressionist Renoir, painted near the end of his life.
Art handlers are the people who set up exhibits. They unpack paintings, afix hardware needed to hang them, carefully transport them through the museum hallways, and do it all with kid gloves. They handle beloved paintings over a century old, worth tens of millions of dollars.
Many of them are artists in their off hours.
Eric Griffin is a photographer who has been working as a handler for eleven years, says he doesn’t handle his own work with anywhere near the reverence he does Renoir’s.
“You don’t really think of your own work as having to last an eternity,” says Griffin. “Most of us don’t think of it as a lifetime. But everything here, this is going to be in our collection forever.”
Griffin says he usually transports his own artwork by throwing it in the back seat of his car.
The personal work of Griffin and a dozen other Museum employees are now on display at Cerulean Arts, a small gallery in North Philadelphia.