Putting into black and white format the intuitive knowledge I have garnered from Lopez Memorial Museum Foundation is an awe-inspiring task. Organizing the structure and choosing the appropriate terms/words to describe the experience excited and challenged me. For one, the experience that I had in LMM is undeniably indescribable. Indescribable in the sense that LMM allowed me to acquire the information other than mere theories that books could offer. The style of learning I have had was practically strategic and motivated me to apply the lessons I gained from my academic institution. Moreover, LMM also challenged me to bring out my 3 c’s such as my critical thinking, creativity, and calmness. LMM taught me to be critical in interpreting and analyzing artworks’ condition, particularly the masterpieces of known artists like Hidalgo and Luna; stretched my imagination or my creativity so I could come up with solutions to labyrinth office’s common troubles; and of course to remain calm in order to uphold the etiquette of being a professional employee amidst pressure.
“First day High.” It is protocol to be oriented when one is accepted to be part of a company. Apart from knowing the nature of his/her works and responsibilities, the neophyte needs to be familiar with company’s culture. It entails the vision-mission, rules and regulations, history of the institution, practices, technology and the people.
During my first day, Ms. Mary Ann toured me in LMM. She introduced me to her fellow employees, LMM’s rooms and its aliases, and the basic do’s and don’ts to keep in mind in the duration of my ojt. I quickly noticed how organized the system they had was. LMM ensured that its books and artworks are properly conserved by having good storage, apparatuses for mitigating the problems its collection might encounter, and professional workers who know their job very well by heart.
After the tour, I was asked to look for the sources that mention the two expatriate artists of the 19th century -Luna, Hidalgo and their masterpieces or any topic that pertains to them. I approached Ma’m Elvie and Ma’m Mercy since they are the senior librarians of LMM. I did not get disappointed when I asked for their help because they entertained my questions and assisted me tremendously. They handed to me almost all the books, magazines, newspapers that I needed. And amazingly, they also gave a brief summary of those materials. In short, they are like walking OPAC!
Before my first day ended, Sir Ricky discussed with me the three options he has prepared for their interns this summer. These are as follows –(1)input the condition report of at least 150 artworks using the excel program; (2) conduct an experimentation that would show the detrimental effects of light (ultraviolet, infrared) and moisture and; (3) detailed research of paintings’ common “sickness” and its possible causes. He was so honest that he warned me that the task would take a lot of my time. Each of those projects were tedious, demanding micromanaging efforts but after finishing the tasks intern would realize how fulfilling it was. Anyway, I chose the first two options since I haven’t experienced those.
When I was on my way home with my dad, he asked me how my first day was. I proudly narrated to him how substantially I spent my day with my (future) mentors. I also told him how proficient and skilled the workers LMM has and how I looked forward to gaining valuable experience from the company because I will be staying with professional workers.
Seize the day. Going to my ojt was indeed a struggle given the distance between Cavite and Pasig. Every morning I made a ritual of waking up early, seeing the scenario of bumper to bumper vehicles, being pushed and stepped-upon by indifferent passengers in mrt and buses, and of course inhaling the aroma of carbon monoxide and other combusted fuels. Honestly, there were times that I imagined myself leaving the house before lunch instead of going to LMM before or at most thirty minutes after 8 o’clock. But I never did that! Yes, there were instances that I was late because of the poor traffic system in my place and I had two half days because I attended to important family matters. What drove me to be immune to my daily struggle was the fact that I rarely went home without acquiring new knowledge and experience. LMM offered me (and my fellow intern Aimee) new set of tasks that made it necessary for me (and Aimee) to exercise the three virtues I have mentioned earlier- to be critical, creative, and calm at all times.
As mentioned earlier, I was given three options by Sir Ricky about the jobs that I am interested in but sadly the time was insufficient that (Aimee and) I were not able conduct the experimentation. But, I was able to do tasks which are not part of the options he has presented to me like removing the cut letters from the “pseudo” glass using a cutter (thank you Mang Domeng for the technique you have taught me!), painting the walls using roller brush (thank you Sir Gerry for allowing me to experience that), operating a innocuous computer (thank you Sir Talvie for letting me to use your challenging computer) and returning an artwork that has been barrowed from the artist/owner (thank you Sir Ricky for that wonderful experience).
There were four major tasks that I wanted to highlight since those were the contributions I have made to the Lopez Museum and to its stake holders. Those were also the tasks that taught me lots of things.
1.) Doing a condition report in excel format. The primary importance of the condition report is that it reports the current condition or status of an artwork. Knowing the important details of an artwork is very essential because it assists the museum in making its (the artwork’s) life longer. The proper storage and treatment can be determined by looking at it or through reviewing the history of an artwork. In a condition report, the accession number of the artwork, the name of its creator, when it was done, current and former damages, treatments that it has undergone, recommended treatments and the like are stated. Some condition report attaches the photo of an artwork for better documentation.
Condition report is also needed when a museum borrows, lends or loans a painting to anyone or to any institution either private or public. Since it certifies the status of an artwork, it helps the barrower and the lender determine the damages, treatments and or the price that should be paid in case of accident or uncontrollable instances.
Albeit I am only required to finish 150 condition report I have input 400 plus condition reports in the excel program that I did for almost 7 days. I have noticed that LMM has gone with three formats already since 1950’s and so therefore, I have encountered new museum jargon that I was forced to discover. Thus, there were some boxes that I did not or I was so unsure to tick in because of some inconsistencies, seemingly interchangeable terms, and illustrations that were printed ordinarily are not enough for me to determine the actual condition of the artworks. By mere looking at their condition report, I have observed that most of their collections are paintings or artworks that are in line with their mission.
2.) Interviewing prominent artists for “The Sum of Its Parts”. It was a remarkable experience having an afternoon with the two artists –Isa Lorenzo and Geraldine Javier who are both involved in visual arts. The former is from the field of photography and the latter is a painter. Both artists shared their basic knowledge and practices on conserving their works.
Supposed to be, I will be interviewing the President of Printmaking Association of the Philippines however the video camera did not cooperate with us. We would have not encountered it, if we did not assume that we could make it work or if we have tried asking Sir Talvie to teach us before leaving the museum.
3.) Video Editing. Enumerate the possible technical problems a movie editor could come upon, I think we had faced 99% of those. It started with the video camera, followed by saving the video in digital video disc (dvd). However, the extension file was not convertible. It took us two days before we found the program that could read it.
While editing the movie, Sir Chitz (SOIP’s curator) explained to me that he wanted a video of the three artists playing simultaneously but its audio should be airing alternately. And so, I have searched for downloadable movie editing program. After editing Isa Lorenzo’s interview, on the upper portion of the video a text can be found saying “Thank you using Video Edit Magic. This is just a trial version.” And so we repeated editing the video in Movie Maker program however the video cannot be “finished”, thus, the laptop did not want to save it anymore. This predicament happened anew with Geraldine’s video.
Aimee and I decided to do the rest of the videos to Sir Ricky, Ma’m May Ann’s, and Tech Portal’s computers. We were able to finish Ma’am Maita & Sir Peter’s videos but the two first interviews we had did not work at all.
Finally, after a week of extracting our ideas and doing all the alternatives (from plan A to Z) that might possibly work, still, we ended up going to Sonic editing company in Diliman. And alas! There was a problem on the video that has been saved to dvd and so we were coerced by the situation to go back to Lopez Museum and get the original source of the video.
Discussing the technical problems we have encountered is like asking a kid to solve the anonymity of Rubic’s cube. Or if somebody tried to put his/herself in our shoe that person might just raise both hands in surrender.
Obviously, this portion contains statements that are filled with rancor. Anyway, after those languorous days, the cocktail night vanquished the two-week tiresome experience I had while seeing the visitors watching the video.
4.) Researching Paintings common problems and its possible causes.
Painting is one of the visual products being produced by an artist (or by anyone). The artist expresses himself through the masterpiece he has created. As an expression, it communicates or conveys a message to its viewers. It therefore speaks for the artist’s emotions, philosophies and or perspectives about life and this world. More than that, painting as an art bridges the sphere of the unseen and unexpressed or suppressed realities and ideas of a particular culture/society. Hence, the man’s masterpieces are part of his’ history, culture and heritage that needs to be preserved and protected.
It is a fact that everything is temporal and so even paintings are also subject to aging. Usually, as it gets older, permanent changes occur. And so an institution like LMM should take a step to do the noble act. Apart from finishing a science related course, a conservator should undergo trainings, lectures, seminars and the like that would enable him/her to know the most effective and efficient way in protecting/conserving those works from further deterioration. Knowing the painting’s anatomy, proper carrying of framed/unframed painting and the effects of the chemical and physical entities that surround the painting are the fundamental data that need to be remembered all the time.
This is just a synopsis of what I have learned. I could say with pride that I did not finish my internship just for the sake of fulfilling the required number of hours my course required of me (I have rendered service beyond 200 hours) but because I have opted to be equipped with knowledge and experience that cannot be learned inside the classroom.