The Floating Museum (1975-1978)

hershmanWhile writing a review of the excellent Oakland Museum of California exhibition Marion Gray: Within the Light, I learned about The Floating Museum, a temporary, non-permanent project run by Bay Area artist Lynn Hershman that “assisted artists in locating and securing spaces in which to create one-time site-specific performances and installations” (MOCA, Under the Big Black Sun blog).

According to a 2008 post on the ZERO1 blog, on the occasion of a year-long examination of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s work by SFMOMA and partner institutions, “The Floating Museum allowed artists who did not fit the boundaries of the gallery to produce and present their work. A fundamental concept of The Floating Museum was to recycle existing resources and spaces, with the intention of bringing the artist’s work directly to the viewer in public places, transforming local sites into temporary exhibition spaces.”

The Floating Museum is the kind of “institution” Stairwell’s models itself after: resourceful, responsive and completely itinerant. Forty years later, performances sponsored by The Floating Museum and captured on film by Marion Gray are still fresh and exciting. Gray’s photographs are artworks in their own right, but the current OMCA exhibit underscores the importance of good documentation, especially in the realm of temporary, ephemeral art making. (SH)