Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Museum Redisplay: Moving Many Shots

Our closure to the public on Monday mornings gives staff the opportunity to undertake jobs that are difficult to complete during opening hours. This was certainly the case in November when we needed to move a custom-made case displaying a painted cowhide measuring 2.2 metres by 1.7 metres. As you can imagine, the case - as well as being very large - is extremely heavy.

Before the case could move, Heather and Andrew from the Conservation Department carefully removed the cowhide. This was painted by Many Shots, a member of the North American Plains Blackfoot community. Painted robes on bison hide and cowhide showing a man's war deeds were often made for sale, and this one was commissioned for a collector in 1893.

Left to right: Painted cowhide PRM 1895.61.1; temporarily storing the glass front of the showcase while the rest of the case is relocated; Technicians removing the case from the Museum's Court Gallery © Pitt Rivers Museum 
Once the cowhide was removed, Ady, Alan, Ali and Chris from the Technical Services Team were able to tackle moving and relocating the display case.

Technicians carefully move the case from the Court Gallery into the stairwell area © Pitt Rivers Museum
All went well and The Life of Many Shots, as the cowhide is often called, is now safely relocated to the west wall of the stairwell on the ground floor. In this new, well-lit location you can clearly see the painted cowhide so, if you have an opportunity to visit, I encourage you to look at this amazing object.

Left: the stairwell wall first thing in the morning; right: now transformed to display Many Shots © Pitt Rivers Museum 
Many Shots was relocated to provide space to build new cases to improve the display of the housing and transport models. This redisplay project is possible thanks to generous funding from DCMS Wolfson. I will keep you up-to-date on the progress of the models redisplay in future blogs.

If you'd like to find out more about the scenes painted on the cowhide see Arni Brownstone's booklet The 'Many Shots' Robe, available in the Museum shop or listen to the Museum's audio guide entry here:

Zena McGreevy
Senior Assistant Curator