Early in my museum fellowship I learned about the glory of 3M Positionable Mounting Adhesive. Our space doesn’t have great ventilation, so we use this stuff for most prototypes. It’s pretty great, it basically turns anything into a giant sticker. Last summer I printed a life size mule and PMA’d him to foam core. Awesome.
This morning, I tried to buy some at my local graphics shop. The roll I was going to pick up was about 1/3rd of the size of one of the rolls we have in bulk at work. It was $79 dollars. The size we have was $149. Insane. I know we probably get a good deal on it because we buy it in bulk, but it still made me think about how working at a large museum can separate you from reality sometimes. When you have access to large format printers, endless rolls of expensive adhesive, etc, you begin to forget that these things cost money.
So when we are thinking about making our own museums, the costs of these things can be pretty shocking. People like Jodi prove that while the bells and whistles are nice, they aren’t necessary. Thinking more creatively saves ridiculous amounts of money.
Even if our institutions have the money to blow, is glue really the best thing to spend it on? Maybe we could hire one of the thousands of my un/underemployed, over-educated peers if we lowered the overhead of our office supplies.Maybe these costs don’t seem outrageous to other people. But I grew up poor. The first time I saw our exhibit budget, I almost fainted, and it’s the most cost-effective exhibit we’ve ever done. It blows my mind.
Obviously this isn’t about the glue. It’s about changing the way we think about money. In my non-museum community activism, the people that get the most done are the ones that aren’t sitting around waiting until we have the cash to make social change. We make do.
In order for radical change to happen, we have to stop thinking about how much money we want, the amount that would make things easy as pie, and start thinking about the minimum amount we can use and get by on. I promise you that you can make a sign in a gallery for less than $1,000 that looks just as professional.
Told you it was a rant.