Packing for a holiday is often a daunting task, requiring a holiday in itself, but imagine packing and shipping an entire exhibition overseas in the space of a week and the word daunting takes on a whole new meaning. Throw into the mix a public holiday and an exhibition space without a loading bay and the task becomes even trickier.
Game Masters, our 2012 Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition, closed on 28 October 2012. At 6pm, as the last visitors were ushered out and staff were taking advantage of their last chance for a Dance Central battle, the Exhibitions Technicians were already beginning the immense task of getting Game Masters on the road to its first international touring destination, Wellington’s Te Papa Tongarewa Museum.
Designed by Clare Cousins Architects, the exhibition comprised over 125 playable games and showcased the work of 30 pioneering video game designers. Kilometres of rainbow webbing adorned ACMI’s subterranean gallery; brightly coloured pole structures displayed monitors and iPads; colourful Perspex booths housed Sing Star and Rock Band jam sessions; and wood panelling walls created a distinctly retro game arcade feel. All of these components made for a unique and thrilling interactive sensory experience, however, the complex nature of the exhibition made the pack-up somewhat challenging.
Most people are blissfully unaware of the logistics of presenting and dismantling an exhibition, with the majority of the action happening behind closed doors. But the large volume of oversized items in Game Masters meant that this process was brought out into the full view of the public. Around 80 steel poles were packed into boxes, each of which weighed nearly a tonne when full, and 20 arcade games were packed into six sizable crates. Everything needed a safe home in which to travel.
The good natured crew (made up of art handlers, AV and ICT technicians, artwork conservators and others) made do in sometimes less than ideal circumstances and found solutions to seemingly insurmountable hurdles. Coping with unwelcome ‘surprises’ – a Melbourne Cup parade that closed Flinders Street, delays due to trucks breaking down and crates that were too small for their contents – the crew were mostly unfazed.
With a sigh of relief (and a touch of sadness), the exhibitions staff waved goodbye to Game Masters as it set off on the journey to its new temporary New Zealand home.
Game Masters is at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum until 28 April 2013. Stay tuned for more updates about Game Masters’ international tour.