“Too nice a day. Everybody at beach.” This was one of the comments recorded in 1966 by a University Gallery guard on a lazy Sunday in June. I found a stack of these comment cards in the files, giving a little window into the thoughts of those silent sentries. The guards were asked to fill out cards evaluating the events of their shift, on Sundays and during Friday night concerts in Northrup Auditorium, downstairs from the gallery. (These were presumably times when other gallery workers were not present).
The text reads: “Remarkably varied reactions in the Baertling show, from guffaws to admiration.” (referring to Olle Baertling)
Most of the comments relate to the number of patrons and their reactions to the artwork, all in 1966. Here’s a sampling of the comments:
Jan. 16: Poor crowds—not an “art” crowd—many negative comments on Busa. (referring to Peter Busa)
Apr. 28: The gallery was open only for intermission, as a result of a mixup on keys too complicated to explain here.
May 1: Some sort of youth concert in the afternoon. Had many kids running all over the place. Closed gallery a bit early because of the numbers of kids on all floors and thought it was safer since I couldn’t be all over.
June 9: A steady trickle of people came looking for sewn up canvases. Most people seemed to think that it was a letdown after all that lurid publicity.
Oct. 7: Good crowd at all exhibitions. It is virtually impossible to keep a count on 4th floor during intermission—the crowd is too dense and mobile.
Areca Roe is a MFA graduate from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Art, with a concentration in photography and minor in Museum Studies. Areca completed her project involvement in Fall 2011, and has subsequently been involved with the University as an artist in residence at the University’s Bell Museum of Natural History.