"Intense, complex and immensely fun" - installing Mayas: Revelation of an Endless Time at World Museum

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Image of Penelope Arque in the Mayas exhibition Penelope Arque takes in the finished exhibition World Museum's new exhibition, Mayas: Revelation of an Endless Time, is the largest temporary exhibition that the Museum has ever hosted. In this blog post, Penelope Arque tells us about the role she played in the project team: "When you decide to study a degree specialising in Maya art and architecture you do it for the love of the art and deep admiration of a civilisation. If you had told me fifteen years ago as I trekked through dense jungle towards the ancient ruins of Yaxchilán that one day I would be working on the largest Maya exhibition this country has ever hosted, I would never have believed you. But that is exactly what happened. Last November I was approached by the exhibitions department to lend my knowledge and Spanish language skills to the team. Since then I feel like there’s little I haven’t been involved with, for example; translating object labels, writing children’s activity trails, a teacher’s resource pack and assisting the curator with research. I was also asked to source Mexican performers for the public programme, interpret for visiting Mexican partners, provide exhibition tours and write materials for the media dept. But the task that I just couldn’t wait for, that excited me the most was working on the object installation. Getting up close and personal with these magnificent artefacts, to see the mastery of the craftsmanship in minute detail was truly exhilarating. Image of the Mayas project team at the exhibition install Members of the project team at the exhibition install The two weeks of installation were intense, complex and yet immensely fun. We comprised an array of specialised teams, overseen by Mexican couriers. We worked carefully around heavy equipment, crates, luminaires and panes of glass, like a colony of industrious ants. It amazed me the infinite nuances of decision that had to be made to ensure the optimum presentation of each individual object. It made me realise that when you go to an exhibition as a visitor it’s difficult to imagine how much time, care and attention to detail has gone into every little thing you see. What I was not expecting though was to become so attached to the talented and wonderful team of people I met during those two weeks. Close friendships have been born. I think what I loved more than anything else was watching people’s reactions as objects were installed. Moments when the business would stop as workers took a step back to admire the beauty of a piece and steal a quick photo for their own private memories. I feel proud and privileged beyond words to have been a part of this incredible team, and to share my personal passions on what is truly a once in a lifetime exhibition." Mayas: Revelation of an Endless Time runs until 18 October 2015. Free entry.