Just in time for students and their parents to take a seat and enjoy the show, after years of planning, "Sit Down! Chairs from Six Centuries" opened yesterday at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

"Sit Down!" will display over 50 chairs, from 15th to 21st centuries, along with supplementary paintings.

The fact that many of the chairs in the collection happen to have a history in the state of Maine gives the show context. Many of the chairs come from places such as the Victorian Mansion and the Maine Historical Society.

Some of the show's highlights include the Joined Great Chair from 1872 that, for many years, was used as the president's chair at Commencement, and Richard Prince's aptly-named Nurse Hat Chair from 2008.

Museum Curatorial Assistant Kate Herlihy '08 has been heavily involved with the installment of the show.

Herlihy's work at the Museum ranges from organization of the final details of exhibitions, from making a label for each piece, to educational work for the College, including assisting classes who use the Museum as an artistic and historical tool.

Staff members working alongside Herlihy include Director of the Museum of Art Kevin Salatino, Museum Curator of Museum Joachim Homann, Preparator José Ribas and Assisstant Preparator Jo Hluska, who are responsible for making sure that the art is installed and displayed correctly. Seemingly simple, this job is delicate and hugely important.

"They handle the mounting of the work, making sure it goes up the right way," said Herlihy. "The lighting of the work as well, which is essential."

The staff of the Museum manages the exhibitions expertly, but as Herlihy emphasized, the small numbers mean that the time surrounding the opening of exhibitions can be hectic.

"Our staff is definitely small," said Herlihy. "While many large museums have multiple directors and curators, we have one director, one curator, and two preparators."

The schedule of Museum exhibitions is constantly in flux. Generally, each exhibition that comes to the College will stay up for several months, but the length of each exhibition is contingent on the College itself.

"We often work with the College's schedule," said Herlihy. "For instance, with 'Sit Down!' we'll definitely keep it through the New Year, but we'll certainly want something new for Commencement in the spring."

Though the exhibition will be up for no more than a few months (until January 16, 2011), like many exhibitions at the museum, it has taken years to prepare.

"I started here in March of 2009, and 'Sit Down!' was already on the books," said Herlihy. "It's been a couple years in the works."

"Sit Down!" was curated by Consulting Curator of Decorative Arts Laura Fecych Sprague. Bowdoin often relies on guest curators due to the small size of the Museum staff.

"She knows the collection extremely well," said Herlihy. "The collection existed in her mind before it existed at Bowdoin."

Additionally, not all exhibitions are curated for Bowdoin in particular. For example, an exhibition of Henry Moore's drawings that preceeded "Sit Down!" was a "traveling exhibition."

"Traveling exhibitions are different," said Herlihy. "They are curated in a different place, not for Bowdoin in particular. We take on their show."

As another exhibition goes up at the Museum, we can rest assured that the Museum's staff is hard at work, preparing exhibitions for the coming years.

Currently, there is another exhibition running at the Museum alongside "Sit Down!"

The exhibit "'Something Completely Different': Raymond Pettibon's Repeater Pencil" also started yesterday and will be at the Museum until January 2, 2011.

The final two exhibitions for the year, "The Bible Illuminated: R. Crumb's Book of Genesis" and 'Object of Devotion: Medieval English Alabaster Sculpture from the Victoria and Albert Museum," are scheduled for February 2011.