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The Suburbanite
  • What I Do: Lynnda Arrasmith takes a hands-on approach to art

  • A member of the museum’s behind-the-scenes staff for 23 years, Lynnda Arrasmith oversees the installation of all museum exhibitions in a hands-on fashion.

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  • In her job as curator of the Canton Museum of Art, Lynnda Arrasmith routinely does something that is taboo for museum visitors.
    She handles artwork — although with gloves on.
    “It’s exactly the reason I love my job,” she said. “Where everyone else can’t touch, I get to pick it up, examine it and decide where it should be placed in the exhibition.”
    A member of the museum’s behind-the-scenes staff for 23 years, Arrasmith oversees the installation of all museum exhibitions in a hands-on fashion. She also creates new exhibitions from scratch, a complicated and often years-long undertaking.
    A Minerva native with a bachelor’s degree in art education from Malone University, Arrasmith commutes to Canton from her farm in Carroll County, where she is surrounded by Amish neighbors.
    Q. What has been your proudest achievement as curator?
    A. “Possibly the first show I curated, which was “George Luks: Expressionist Master of Color  — The Watercolors Revisited.” It was my first time actually visiting other private collectors and museums with curating a show as my agenda. We were producing a catalog and I actually went to Standard Printing at 11 p.m. at night  to review the final colors and suggested some changes. The catalog sold out and I still get requests for it.”    
    Q. How do you get individuals or other museums to loan you pieces of work for shows?
    A. “Persuasion. It helps immensely that we are accredited by the American Association of Museums. It also helps to be working years in advance so that people can schedule the piece to come to you. I have worked  with the Smithsonian in the past for our Native American exhibition and they were delighted we asked three years before the scheduled exhibition.”
    Q. What have been some of the most challenging museum exhibits to assemble?
    A. “For the Civil War show, I wanted to recreate some of the (vintage war) photographs, so we studied them and then found some of the objects that were in them. For instance, clothing, uniforms, swords, guns and a cannon.  Again, it is networking. The Repository ran articles on what we were trying to accomplish, so some of the people called us.  It was just people who knew people and were excited about the Civil War exhibition and they would call other folks and so forth.”
    Q. Artwork is carefully packed for shipping, correct? And often in custom wooden crates?
    A. “Absolutely. When a museum asks for one of our pieces and it ends up being shipped to more than one venue, I will stipulate the need for a crate. For instance, our (large painting) ‘Street People’ by Clyde Singer has traveled more than most people — to Europe, Japan, all over the U.S. — so I want the piece to be as protected as possible. These crates can run up to $2,000 apiece to build. Oftentimes, transportation costs can be about a third to a half of the cost element in an exhibition.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Q. What upcoming show at the museum are you anticipating?
    A. “Each year there is something exciting to look forward to — that is the gift of the job. We are considering an exhibition titled “Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World.” I am also interested in the Ferdinand Brader exhibit (opening Dec. 4). He was an itinerant artist who drew area farms. His drawings are so packed with images of a time gone by.”