As the Chief of Installations, Richard Johnson is in charge of moving, deinstalling, and installing works of art. This requires taking a unified approach to addressing the concerns of curators, conservators, lenders, shipping agents, and trucking firms while maintaining the utmost care for the safety of each object. Johnson explained that his team is “sort of responsible for the final visual product of what you’re seeing in a museum.”
For Johnson, one of the best parts of his job is collaborating with his crew. “They’re all artists. They bring all sorts of sensibilities to a project. They’re all very creative and problem solvers,” he said. “We have on our staff an expert mount-maker, people who can do amazing paint effects, people who are just really sensitive to how art should be shown, the nature of what’s being done in a gallery.”
As a graduate of Wesleyan University, Johnson had a strong liberal arts education. Even today, he still gets a thrill from holding in his hands many of the paintings or sculptures that he had studied. Johnson worked in theater and film and maintains his deep appreciation for the arts. “I often say working in a museum, working with the art, and working on exhibitions is often like working in a theater—without actors,” he said.
Johnson often thinks about how art plays a vital role in the community. He believes diverse audiences can come to the Center and interact with the art in a way that is transcendent from daily responsibilities and routines. Yet these visitors can also still relate to the art in a way that has meaning to their lives. He feels honored to work at a place that offers art to the Yale community, the people of New Haven, and greater audiences. “My love for art rests with the fact that art possesses a very dynamic nature in how people understand themselves and the places where they live.”
Watch the accompanying interview to learn more about art installation at the Center.