Meet the Staff: Nathan Marzen

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NATHAN MARZEN is the Ackland’s Chief Preparator.

How long have you been at the Ackland?
I started in May 2013.
What brought you to the Ackland?
I like the environment of a university museum and the focus on using the collection and exhibitions for education. When I interviewed, I was particularly impressed with the Ackland’s use of the Study Gallery. It’s a small enough museum to give me a variety of experiences and there’s a staff here that is ambitious enough that we do a lot of big things. We’ve also got a diverse collection with a lot of interesting art to work with.
What do you do at the Ackland?
As Chief Preparator, I am involved in many different aspects of exhibitions and collections care. I lead exhibition design, preparation, and installation. I manage the art storage vaults, the movement of artwork, and special projects such as our recent addition of color (on the walls) and replacement of carpet in the galleries.

What is a memorable Ackland experience?
During the preparations for Photovision, I brought my (3-year-old) daughter in on a Saturday and she helped me paint the walls.
What is your favorite thing about working at the Ackland?
I’m given a lot of creative freedom when it comes to exhibitions and the people I work with are full of good ideas and experience to inspire the designs.
SEE. MORE. ART.: What is your favorite arts experience in the Triangle?
I really like the North Carolina Museum of Art. They’ve got an amazing collection and present it really well.

BONUS QUESTION: What can you tell us about how Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans Hofmann will be installed?

For the first time in a while the galleries will have a very similar layout to the previous show. We usually go for a more dramatic change between shows, but Testing Testing and Walls of Color have some similarities that call for a similar space. That and a lot of positive feedback about our tall walls drove the decision to keep two of the three walls in place. I think though, that we will still succeed in creating an entirely different feeling for visitors. Since the focus of Hofmann’s work is color we’re going back to very basic with the gallery walls so they don’t compete. We did throw in a few highlights of color though. We used a yellow intro wall which has been consistent in each venue for the run of the show and added two accents of our own, playing off of Hofmann’s theory of “Push/Pull”.

Nathan’s mock-up of Walls of Color, prior to installation.