Voices of the Bay

It's All About the Details

RISD's Marny Kindness knows organization is key to a successful art exhibit

Posted

Rhode Island School of Design Museum’s current exhibit, Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance 1850–1970, was five years in the making and features over 600 pieces. The show, which has received rave reviews, was a massive undertaking involving collaboration among numerous individuals and departments with daily communication of who was doing what, when, where, and how. For RISD Museum Exhibition Coordinator Marny Kindness, this is when the magic happens. A self-confessed lover of organization and her project manager calendar, she thrives on keeping everyone on track with the details.

Having worked at the RISD Museum for a number of years in general administration and operations, the Warren resident assumed the position of Exhibition Coordinator in 2008 when the museum’s Chace Gallery opened and there was a bigger need for a designated coordinator for exhibitions, rotations, and permanent collection objects.
Marny received her BFA in Fine Art, Photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design Certificate from the University of Rhode Island, and she previously worked at the Museum of Fine Arts in facilities and planning. She and her husband Michael are parents of two sons. Marny currently serves as Vice Chair of the Bristol Warren Education Foundation.



"I’m probably a little more Type A than I like to admit. I went to art school and I want to be like, ‘I’m breezy, super fun, and artistic,’ but I love control and love for things to be super organized. I keep a lot of lists and use a lot of project management software where I can zoom out and see the big picture of the entire exhibition schedule which can be three to five years out. [Others] come up with the ideas, I make sure they happen. We have 20-30 rotations spaces. In the permanent collection we have over 100,000 pieces.
 
What I enjoy the most is working with our staff. We are a well-oiled machine. Even if curators are fairly new coming from other museums, what allows us to work so well is that we are medium-size college museum unlike an MFA, which is huge and runs almost like a corporation. With museums in general there have always been directors, curators, and installers, but it wasn’t until museums were doing multiple exhibits that they needed a dedicated person to manage it. Large museums have multiple people doing the job.
 
There is a great group of exhibition planners across the northeast, all very detail-oriented people. When I went to my first conference, which was all exhibition managers, I walked into the room and I was like, ‘Yay, these are my organizing people!"