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Cleveland Museum of Art looks into storage for new exhibit amid pandemic

The Cleveland Museum of Art decided to look inward at their massive collection in storage to create a new exhibit.

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Museum of Art has taken an outside the box approach when dealing with the pandemic. While projects and exhibits that spent years planning were delayed, the museum came up with an interesting plan.

"I thought it was a wonderful idea," Barbara Tannenbaum, curator of photography at the museum, says. "It enables us to show things that we really haven’t seen in a long, long time."

The idea was much like what many of us are doing at home: We see the same pictures and furniture in the same spots and decide to mix it up. We move things around and maybe check our closets or storage to see what we haven’t used or displayed in a while. The big difference?

The museum’s storage contains over 60,000 pieces of historic and famous artwork.

"For a person who is very good at shopping, I knew what I wanted to get," curator of Korean art Sooa McCormick said.

McCormick and Tannenbaum--along with 15 other curators, the chief curator, the museum director and the education director--all went into storage to pick out pieces. They went through about 61,000 paintings, textiles, photographs and sculptures with the direction of telling a story. The end result is 20 small mini exhibitions called "Stories from Storage."

"I love the idea that it tells 20 different stories so you really get a sense of how exhibitions are organized and how different people’s viewpoints tell different stories," Tannenbaum said.

"We all had the opportunity to present the idea, then have all of our voices heard at the same time, at the same place," McCormick added.

Some pieces have been displayed recently, others haven’t been seen in decades and some may have never been shown before. However, they all share the common thread of human creativity, and prove that everything old--as most things are in a museum--can become new again.

"It’s sort of like an iceberg," Tannenbaum explained. :There’s a certain tip, and then there’s what is below the surface. The nice thing about the museum is that occasionally things from below the surface reverse. It allows us to bring some of those objects back [that], for a number of different reasons, don’t end up in the public eye very often."

Stories from Storage opened on Feb. 7 and will run through May 16.

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