1,001 Nights = A Few Hundred Pounds

Okay, so you won’t find that in your standard chart of weights and measures, but you’re going to have to take our word for it. Yesterday the bulk of the museum’s installation and preparation staff were on hand to hang one of the most treasured works from our collection and a visitor favorite—Henri Matisse’s massive paper cut-out, The Thousand and One Nights—in preparation for the exhibition opening tomorrow (April 7) . Over 12 feet in length, the work requires many art handlers to safely mount it on the wall. Here are some photos of the installation team at work…

The organizer for the exhibition, curator of fine arts Louise Lippincott, adds: 

“If you look closely at the collage, you can see the pencil marks on the paper defining the placement of each cut out. You can read the watermark in the paper (Arches). You can see tack holes in the corners of the large shapes, made when Matisse pinned them to the walls of his studio. You can see how small scraps of paper were assembled to make shapes and letters. You can see the overlap of one cut-out form upon another. In other words, you can see exactly how it was made. These details are too subtle to show up in a reproduction—it’s only possible to see them in the gallery.”

Due to the light-sensitive nature of this delicate giant, Henri Matisse: The Thousand and One Nights will be only on view for a limited time (closing July 15) to help reduce damage from ultraviolet light and prolong the life of this important work. The exhibition includes a drawing and a wood block print by Matisse, as well as photographs showing his studio at the time he created The Thousand and One Nights with the help of his assistants.