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A Regal Palette: Designing the Gallery Space for Oudry's Painted Menagerie

When designing the exhibition space for Oudry's Painted Menagerie, curators gave us very specific ideas about what they wanted to achieve. Namely, to replicate the interior of the galleries of the Staatliches Museum in Schwerin, Germany, with paintings displayed on white walls accented by gold moldings.

Gold moldings in the exhibition galleries  
White walls with gold molding, shown here behind Jean-Baptiste Oudry's Rhinoceros in the exhibition galleries, echo the elegant interior of the Staatliches Museum Schwerin, which houses Oudry's animal paintings
The challenge: our budget did not permit the use of actual sculpted wood moldings, so we had to give the illusion of this opulence using just flat painted pieces of wood. Since our special exhibitions pavillion at the Getty Center is modern in its architecture, this luckily suited the space well, giving it just enough of a period feel without overwhelming visitors with a space that looked too gimmicky. It also gave us an additional framing device for thematic groupings, such as felines and birds.

We carried this same design concept over into the "Rhino-mania" gallery, which features works inspired by the famous rhinoceros, except that we reversed the paint colors (from white walls with gold trim to gold walls with white trim) to give the space a warmer feel. While the works in the paintings gallery are monumental in scale, the objects in "Rhino-mania" are quite small in comparison, so we scaled the moldings down to make the space feel more intimate.

Similarly, in the drawings gallery, we were concerned that the drawings would be overwhelmed by their painted neighbors in the adjacent gallery. To ease this transition of scale, we decided to display them on panels, grouped by theme, to give them a larger impression in the space.

Nicole Trudeau with color samples  
Nicole uses sample boards to evaluate the blue, gold, and white color scheme for the exhibition galleries

Overall, the color palette for Oudry is royal blue, gold, and white. The blue stripes play off of an early idea of a "sideshow" or a "carnival-like" look, which is carried through on the banners and other promotional materials. We kept the palette simple to allow the artwork to shine, using the blue for accent areas, white for focus areas, and gold as an accent throughout. This responds to Oudry's work as a painter for the monarchy—the regal palette helps to reinforce this connection.

Re: A Regal Palette: Designing the Gallery Space for Oudry's Painted Menagerie

That's a great image of the design concept.  Its unusual to see so much space given to one work of art.

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