Keeping Tabs on an Art Collection, Part III


After speaking with Tiffany Shea in the registrar’s office about identifying objects by number at museums, I knew that I’d see a sticker on the back of this Theodore Robinson painting, currently in storage. What I did not expect was eight stickers. It was a veritable passport for Valley of the Seine, Giverny.


In a glance, I could track its travel all over the world as part of exhibitions. There was even a sticker belonging to a gallery that once owned it. Before seeing these stickers, I had only really considered the meaning of the front side of a painting—of the actual art. For the first time, looking at the back of the Robinson, I considered the flipside—the history of the painting itself, and how each of the places the painting has been adds to its legacy.

Allison Agsten

2 Responses to Keeping Tabs on an Art Collection, Part III

  1. Maggie Hanson says:

    What happens when you run out of space? If you want to keep provenance info intact, you’d have to ensure that none of the prior stickers are covered. I’d love to know!

  2. Hannah says:

    Another thought for the back of paintings, some artists leave their mark or “recipe” for the painting on the back. For example, Joseph Albers wrote the number of the oil paints that he used to create his series “Homage to the Square” (maybe he did with with other works as well). The University of Michigan Art Museum has an Albers displayed on a stand for visitors to look at the back side of the painting and see his “recipe.” Very messy hand-writing, so it is difficult to decipher. Really neat, though!

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