The end of July was bitter-sweet for the Blaffer staff. Bitter, because it was the final week of work for associate curator Rachel Hooper, a fabulous coworker who left Blaffer to pursue a Ph.D. in art history from Rice University. Sweet, because after months of planning, we were finally embarking on a new chapter in the museum’s history: it was time for us to move offices.

boxes

After the final exhibition at Blaffer — the AAM-sponsored Museum of Broken Relationships— ended in early June, the registration team spearheaded by Youngmin Chung emptied out the museum’s storage facilities. Everything that was to be stored offsite for the duration of the renovation was placed onto large pallets and temporarily stored in Blaffer’s first floor low ceiling gallery. The rest of the galleries and all the storage areas were now empty. The faint sound of footsteps that is normally diffused by the art in the museum now ominously echoed against the bare walls and ceilings. This is how the museum remained until the end of July.

empty storage room

Living in an empty museum was oddly unsettling . No banging of hammers by the construction crew. No drilling into walls by the installation team. No curators running around making last-minute aesthetic changes to the placement of artworks. Pure silence.

Pallets

Most of the staff had packed up their offices by July 28. On the afternoon of Friday, July 29, the IT team from UH’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) came by to help us pack up our computers. The move was scheduled for the following Monday, but a delay in the movers’ schedules meant we wouldn’t see most of our belongings until Tuesday. Needless to say, the staff found out first hand how much we depend on our computers.

Wrapped Office

The actual move occurred without incident. Luckily, no tales of damaged office supplies, or worse, broken bones. We are situated in surprisingly large cubicles in one of the many buildings of UH’s Energy Research Park, a section of land alongside the Gulf Freeway about one mile south of UH’s main campus that once housed the offices of Schlumberger’s Houston branch. The one room building we’re in is quite expansive — the cubicles encompass only about a third of the space — and the glossy wood floors and clerestory windows give the interior the look of a dance studio. Last week, we posted a picture on Facebook and half-jokingly asked for the donation of a ping-pong table to help occupy the space. Other ideas have since been generated. A Saturday night discotheque. A roller skating rink. And let’s not forget about Blaffer group yoga.

Setting up the new office

While it’s inherently not convenient to be located away from Blaffer for the duration of the renovation, the space will suit us just fine as we work hard to plan wonderful exhibitions and programs as we move forward with this exciting new phase in the museum’s history. Plus, it’s probably safer for us to be away from the destruction, dust, and debris as the wrecking ball begins knocking down walls at Blaffer. But for those thrill-seekers looking for danger, we’ll host membership tours of the renovation progress; hard hats have already been ordered. Hope you’ll join us for one!

We’re still looking for a ping-pong table, by the way.

Setting up the office

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