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... of The San Diego Museum of Art

Museum Staff

What happens between a Curator’s ideas and the installation of an exhibition? That depends on the staff creating layouts, budgets, color schemes and designing displays that make the art objects sizzle in their mounts. This page came from requests to put names, faces and details with the work behind the scenes. Due to the nature of their work, information isn’t readily available about these brilliant people. Their professions depend on the Museum’s art objects being the focus of our attention. The genius of their work is seen, but rarely noticed for what it is because they do it so well. We appreciate finding out who they are and what they do.

Scot Jaffe, Director of Exhibitions and Collections

Meet: Scot Jaffe

Director of
Exhibitions and Collections

Last year Scot Jaffe, Director of Exhibitions and Collections, was interviewed for the September presentation for the Study Group on Behind the Scenes in the Art of East Asia galleries.

He started our conversation by saying when a curator comes and asks, “Can’t we just …?” it is his job to give options and solutions while juggling the limited resources of time and money. He draws from his experience of designing and fabricating hundreds of exhibitions for the museum. Scot holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Northridge with an emphasis in ceramics. Of interest to us is that he participated in their international program, spending a year in Taiwan so he could learn brush painting techniques to decorate ceramics. Can you imagine having classes inside the National Museum in Taiwan? He also learned to paint and mount scrolls while he was there. What an asset for insight into our East Asian collection! Next February he will complete his 29th year with the Museum.

Magic happens in this department! The Art of East Asia galleries were the first to install LED lighting, which saves a lot of expense for electricity. From frames to false walls and cornices to technology breakthroughs in mounts and lighting, the Exhibition staff just might have the most interesting positions at the Museum. You need to read a lot more about this department.

James Gielow working in Gallery9
James Gielow working on the new installation of Gallery 9

James Gielow

Senior Mount Maker,
Associate Registrar

James has been with the Museum for 11 years. James’ work as a mount maker is detailed and incredibly careful. Each work of art is shown in the best possible position and light, but also each piece is protected from possible earthquake damage. (One never knows when the big quake will hit San Diego, but James says the walls will crumble before his mounts fail to protect their art). Each mount is created so one can often see it, but one won’t notice that it’s separate from the art object. James started a database for the mounts so they can be rated by difficulty in making them, and also can be located since they are generally stored separately. Fascinating! It makes me laugh to think some of the most tested mounts are the “touchables” in the Art of East Asia because every day they are pushed, pulled, and tapped hard. He has a wealth of knowledge that makes Museum exhibitions exquisite.