PREPARATIONS

Everything is laid out carefully and as swords are unpacked they are checked one by one. It is an exhaustive and time consuming aspect. But it is a must and Victoria and her team are highly scrupulous and meticulous.

 

Each sword is meticulously identified and placed in a shelf together with the ones of the same collector, in this case. All the swords are placed in a 55% humidity and temperature of 22 degrees Celsius.

Here one sword is scrupulously identified, analyzed for any problems and then it is registered. It takes hours.

I was able to attach the fiber chord to the jaw that belongs to one of the Kachin Dao. But the horse hair thread was worn out by time and we called our restoration department lady to painstakingly wrap the horse hair with acid free touch up tape so that we could pass it through the jaw amulet second hole. It took about one hour to carefully wrap the horse hair with very special restoration tape. Things like this will occupy a small team until the opening of the exhibition.

One a batch of swords passes the inspection, it goes to the photography studio. While Lee Tak Shing, the artist and photographer was setting up this sword I chose for a close up I just used my camera and borrowed the light box flash. All swords photographs will be painstakingly corrected for background shadows that are inconvenient. These are photos in the raw.

EARLY SETTING UP

Korean and Japanese sections were figured out on paper, but when it comes to over 120 swords, it is wiser to stage a trial display set up to assess how this can be done in reality. The photos below speak by themselves through early attempts to final decisions.

It is interesting to see the exhibition room before it is set up to tell the differences, while swords are being brought in and

and lined up. First attempts that were on my mind are put to test and laid in the floor where tape was placed in the floor for the exact size of the display windows. The layout at this stage will be in the floor.

We had four cells for the Continental S.E.Asia's swords, but it became immediately apparent that they would be lost and worse than that, a lot of valuable space would be wasted. So Continental S.E.Asia's swords became laid out horizontally. They fit to perfection.

From the begging it soon became evident that a vertical display was required for more space and to distinguish from the Continental S.E.Asia's Section. The magic thing is they fit exactly, group by group in a very nice way. They will look very dramatic the way they are displayed.

Ear records in pictures each group layout. The young but competent staff lined up for some photography with ever present Victoria and Ear. The Museum director insisted in taking the pictures. Last picture is me with 20 odd years old friend and director, relieved that we managed to save a display case that would have costed around US$25.000!!!
Old foxes are humble and do want to see how things are in the field before building anything. Result is it that the displays will look intensive and the interaction between the different groups in both sections will result very nicely. It took a mere two and half hours of testing. Now the display acrylics can be made.

RADIO INTERVIEW

April 28, 6:20 PM, great radioman and newspaper journalist, Hélder Fernando makes an interview about the History of Steel at Radio Macau. The Museum offered a catalogue and listeners called. It was very rewarding.

TOUR GUIDES LECTURE

April 30. Lecturing to Museum Volunteers who work as tour guides for groups and schools. A full explanation on the overall content was given, always bearing in mind the people need to be encouraged to further research on their own about any subject.

MORE SET UP - MAY 4 & 5

Now the work has really begun. The center display case is covered with a new size window and we are testing partitions that will separate swords from different periods. The third picture shows the first layers of black painted and the two last pictures show the partitions hung inside. I look at the ceiling lights. They will all be off when the exhibition opens. Being off, the will create a very dark atmosphere.

Without painting the walls black, only the all around display cases will be covered in black so as to absorb light and therefore just allow the weapons to be seen. The idea is to create an atmosphere that is simultaneously abstract and without references except for the display pieces and a very special set up that will meet the visitors. Let the mind not be disturbed by anything but the pieces. We will be aiming for as much darkness as possible which helps to remove most sensorial feelings. The last picture shows markings for spotlights for special exhibit items.

FINAL SET UP OF THE CONTINENTAL S.E. ASIA AND PHILIPPINES SECTION

Here are photos of displays of of the Continental S.E. Asia. One can still see the nylon guidelines stretched in the background.

More photographs are shown whenever the glass was not intruding. Now we see the Philippines Barong, Panabas and Kampilan. The Kris cannot be photographed at the moment because the glass reflection is very strong.

PREVIOUS PLANIFICATION IS THE SECRET

At the moment I am writing this, May 11, 2006 all of the exhibition is set up. The Korean section can be seen here in different periods and also grouped by straight swords and curved swords, as it should be. The Japanese section has been also finished without rush or nervousness. Everything fell to its previously designated place once I understood that the Philippines and Continental S.E. Asia would fit in their originally assigned areas.
But of course there is much more to an exhibition than just displaying the pieces. A lot more, and that also takes plenty of time.

Here is one final view of the exhibition hall taken from one angle, and with ceiling lights still open. At the right there is an installation symbolizing the aftermath of a battle with a spear leaning against the remains of a vertical banner, arrows stuck to the ground and nine tablets half burnt, displaying the introduction to the Art of War. The background is a text based on Taoism about Peace.