Alaska State Museums Bulletin 76

Printable Version

Editors Note:  Due to the time constraints involved in the move of our collections, the ASM Bulletin will go on hiatus for the summer.  The next issue will be published in September.  

Contents:

Crate Ideas
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web


 

Crate Ideas

Last month’s post was about using corrugated plastic sheeting to create lightweight, sturdy temporary enclosures or crates for moving objects from one location to another.

Like these:

movers - lighthouse drive mechanism - BEST obj - dramatic wolf 2

This post will show some  ideas and tips for crating large objects with stronger, wooden crates and platforms.  This is not meant to be instructions on how to construct wooden crates.   These are just things to keep in mind when building crates or instructing others who build crates for you.

Wooden crates are usually for larger, heavier artifacts that will be in the crates for a longer period of time.

11oct2013 154

If the object will be in the crate for a really long time, the inside can be lined with aluminized Mylar to keep the wood from off-gassing to the inside.

holes

Or holes can be drilled in the sides to keep the volatile organic components (VOC’s) from building up inside the crate.

If constructed properly, wooden crates are sturdy enough to stack or can be used as a platform for stacking other things on top of them.

stacked

Moving around large objects in crates generally means using machines rather that relying solely on human effort.  A machine can be as simple as a 4 wheel dolly

dolly

or as complex as a forklift.

crate with fork

crate on 4

Note that this dolly is held in place with pallet wrap.  The pallet wrap  keeps the dolly from slipping when moving over uneven surfaces.  Pallet wrap is a stretchy plastic that sticks to itself in the same manner as kitchen plastic wrap.  It is a great materials for wrapping and attaching a great number of things.  However, you never want to put pallet wrap in direct contact with an artifact.  This can cause surface damage due to the plasticizers (the stuff that makes it stretchy) in the pallet wrap.

One essential piece of equipment for moving large crates is called a pallet jack.

pallet jack

This wonderful tool allows large and heavy crates to be placed with surprising maneuverability.

Frog housepost March 2014 7

If  you are using a pallet jack, it is important to build skids onto the bottom of the crates with enough room to slide the forks of the pallet jack under them.  This means about 3 1/2 inches of room.  Keep in mind this is more than is required for a regular forklift.  So crates that were designed to be fork-lifted may not be pallet jack-able.

???????????????????????????????

It is also a good idea to put handles on the sides of crates so they can be lifted onto a dolly if necessary.

equip - handles on large wooden crates help - Jon - BEST

Another important thing to keep in mind with crates is to label crates with their content so people know what is in them.

glass marker

Taping a quick digital printout to the lid is even better.

photo on crate

What we found was most effective, though, was to include a window in the lid if possible.

lid of crate

Frog housepost March 2014 window

This sounds like a lot of extra work but we found that it created a much different relationship between the movers and the object inside the crate.  If the movers were able to actually see the artifact they were much more careful with the crate.  Without the window, the crate is just another heavy wooden box to shove around. And you never have to open a crate to see if it is empty or not.  We used an old scrap of Plexiglas for the window and hot-glued it in place.

Padding in the crate is important.  Ethafoam can be hot-glued directly to the crate wall  or bottom.

obj - lighthouse lens foam bullseye

You don’t need a lot but it should be used judiciously so that it does the job of cushioning and holding the object in place.

obj - lighthouse lens 2 bullseyes crated up

Ethafoam can be hot-glued to the lid to secure the object with a little pressure when the lid is screws down.

Instructions written on the inside and outside of the crate can be important to those who will be de-installing objects or opening the crates.  Think of them as kind messages to the future so leave nothing to chance.  Yes they could probably figure it out but it is so much easier for them to know what you were doing or thinking when you crated the object up.

equip - Sharpie communication2 technique - written communication on crates

 

 

These are just a few of the things we have learned crating large objects for our big move.

return to top

Ask ASM

 

oil canQuestion:  So here’s the issue: I just started a complete inventory and in the second box I noticed that a lot of the tissue used to wrap objects was yellowed and oily looking.  Sure enough, in the middle of the box was small hand-pump oil can.  There was probably a teaspoon of oil left in the can that was slowly leaking and being absorbed by the tissue wrapping the adjacent objects.  I have no idea how old the oil is or what kind of oil it is, or even what the oil was used for, but the oilcan has been at the museum for about 4 years, and in that box for at least two.  I used cotton balls and q-tips to absorb what I could, wrapped up the can and the spout (separately) in paper towels, stuck them in a separate box – which is now next to my desk- and replaced the oily tissue paper on the other objects.  The fur and leather native masks that were also in the box were not affected (from first glance anyway), and the objects that were wrapped in oily tissue were ceramics, metals, and plastics, and they didn’t *seem* to have any oily residue.  (There are appropriate notes in all of their PastPerfect files).

My questions to you are: What do I do now?  What should I have done?  And how do I store the oil can?

ASM:  Historical objects can be messy.  That’s OK, its what the stuff is.

Here’s what you should do:

Wipe the excess oil off the oilcan as best as you can, and if you can easily make the oil come out so you can remove it, that’s good too.  Sop it up in paper towels and get rid of it in a trash can outside.  Then store the oil can in a secondary plastic container of some sort (perhaps a Tupperware? A plastic bag?).  And include MORE tissue paper in there to sop out what might continue to leak.  This will allow you to continue monitoring what comes out, as well as control the mess.  This is pretty hands-off and non-interventive,.  Putting it on exhibit could be tricky if it oozes a lot, but that’s another bridge to cross.  This method keeps all the options open and does not make anything worse.

return to top

Shaking the Money Tree

Reminder:  Grant in Aid applications are due June 2, 2002.  You can find information about this program from our Grants webpage http://museums.alaska.gov/grants.html

Spotlight on Grant in Aid

Ahtna Heritage Foundation

The goal of our project was to raise the quality and lower the cost of lighting in the exhibit room of the C’ek’aedi Hwnax-the Ahtna Cultural Center– by replacing the unattractive, outdated, ill-chosen lighting with attractive high-quality, cost-efficient LED lights and hardware.  The museum coordinator purchased track light and troffer hardware and LED lamps according to a list and price agreed to beforehand by Brown’s Electric, a lighting outlet located in Anchorage.  Mr. Tim Willis, a local licensed electrician installed the purchased fixtures and lamps.  Long sections of track replaced the existing short, choppy lengths.  Three LED troffers replaced the single overhead fluorescent shop light.

Since the new lighting has been installed, the cost of electricity at the C’ek’aedi Hwnax has decreased 10.5% from the same time period the year before, in spite of the fact that usage and cost of electricity has risen.  The savings are augmented by the fact we no longer purchase incandescent bulbs, nor dedicate staff time to monitor and change light bulbs. The new LED lamps are cool in temperature, which was a blessing this last above-average heat summer.  The improved color and distribution of the light and better-looking fixtures have resulted in more attractive displays and exhibits.  Finally, the new lights in the exhibit area are better on the eyes for visitors and staff.  The C’ek’aedi Hwnax fills a large gap in our community as a place where Ahtna Athabascan People can display and interpret their culture, history and language for themselves and for the visiting public.  The center also fills a need for a community gathering place for conferences, workshops, and meetings.  The improved appearance and better lighting gained from this project benefits the exhibits and gathering space that are the very heart of the Ahtna Cultural Center.

lights

return to top

Alaska Museums in the News

One Chance at Last Chance

http://juneauempire.com/local/2014-05-18/one-chance-last-chance#.U3ppF_ldV8E

Museum Bill Dies in Legislature

http://www.thetundradrums.com/story/2014/04/24/local/museum-bill-dies-in-legislature/1260.html

Professional Development/Training Opportunities

In honor of May being preservation awareness month, watch the recording of The Supercharged Management System.

http://www.connectingtocollections.org/ics/

return to top

Professional Time Wasting on the Web

Mapping Quiet Spaces

http://futureofmuseums.blogspot.com/2014/05/monday-musing-mapping-quiet-spaces.html

Getting the big picture of training

http://engagingplaces.net/2014/05/05/getting-the-big-picture-of-training/

Developing new methods for recoloring faded taxidermy

http://intheirtruecolors.wordpress.com/

Rare Eskimo Shaman’s Mask sells for Record-Breaking $2.5 Million

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/01/19/surreal.yupik.masks/

Preservation Myths Debunked

http://collectionsconversations.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/preservation-myths-debunked/

Our Museums Are Broken–These 5 Fixes Can Make Them Fun Again

http://www.forbes.com/sites/sethporges/2014/04/26/our-museums-are-broken-these-5-fixes-can-make-them-fun-again/

Why Study History

http://engagingplaces.net/2014/05/15/video-why-study-history/

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alaska State Museums Bulletin 75

Printable Version

Contents:

Crating with Coroplast®
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web


 

Crating with Coroplast®

 In preparation for moving 35,000 objects out of our museum building before it gets demolished to make way for the new Alaska State Museum, we have found it necessary to build many different types of crates for large objects.  Some of these crates are the familiar kind made out of plywood and dimensional lumber.  These protect the object during transport to our offsite storage and may need to house the object for a longer period or be stacked on top of each other for efficient use of space.  A future post will cover some of the things we have learned about building and using these types of crates.

wooden crate

We also found a need for crates that are intended to be more temporary in nature, that just protect the object from dust or moisture as we move them into a neighboring building. These will not be stacked and will likely be disposed of after they have served their purpose. We found it is faster and easier to use an alternative construction material called corrugated plastic sheeting.

sewing machine crate correx paintings  crate

The sheets are made from a co-polymer of polypropylene and polyethylene plastic, or sometimes just from polypropylene, and it goes by the trade names Coroplast® or Correx®.  You can find more information about these products at the terrific website of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts called Cameo (http://cameo.mfa.org/wiki/Main_Page ) or from the National Park Service’s Conserv-O-Gram on safe plastics http://www.nps.gov/museum/publications/conserveogram/18-02.pdf.

There is an archival form of this sheeting available from supply companies such as University Products, Archivart, Gaylord, and Talas.  It is free from color, anti-static agents, or UV inhibitors.  This kind is more expensive and is used in permanent storage when the plastic is actually touching our artifacts, such as the backing board for certain paintings or rigid boxes for artifact storage.

Correx to make blueboard rigid

However, for temporary crates this version is not necessary.  Fluted plastic sheeting is popular with the sign printing industry, and if someone in your town is able to make large political or advertisement signs, they are likely using this type of sheeting to do it and you can usually buy some from them.

Working with fluted plastic sheeting

What are the advantages? Corrugated plastic sheeting is tough, light weight, water resistant and fairly easy to cut and shape.  It is much quicker to cut than wood and does not require a table saw or other woodworking equipment.  What are the disadvantages?  It is only rigid in the direction along the flutes.  Across the flutes it bends fairly easily.  The larger the crate the more it tends to bend and bow.  It is more expensive than plywood but you can sometimes design the crate to use less of it so this may not be a major factor.  Plus the time savings in the construction may off-set the extra cost of the material.

There are two directions to cut the sheets and it is important to pay attention to this.  You are either cutting along the flutes or across the flutes.  You can use any kind of razor knife or box knife but if you are going to be making a lot of crates or boxes, it really pays to get the right tool for the job.  That right tool is this:

 

the tool

You can find out how to purchase this one here http://pages.videotron.com/plastkut/

Or a similar tool here http://sawtrax.com/coro-claws

This tool helps to quickly cut a large sheet in to smaller sections along the flute.  In wood working this is known as a “rip-cut” or “ripping a board” and you generally need a table saw or a skill saw if you are doing this to a sheet of plywood.

The Plast-Kut tool fits into the flutes and stays there as you move it along.  You can either  either cut through the entire board or just cut one wall of the flute.

This photo shows the tool positioned to cut through both walls of the flute.

both walls

This will separate the board into two parts as you move along the flute.

thru twice

 

Cutting one wall at a time allows you to easily fold the board and make a corner.

one side

 

 

Cutting across the flutes is just done with a straight edge and a box cutter like you would regular corrugated card board.

cross

 

To make a corner across the fluting, you use a box cutter to make an inverted “V” shape and remove that triangular wedge.

wedge removed

To make a corner along the fluting you can just cut both sides of the flue and remove the middle section.

score

You then fold the board and run a bead of hot glue to hold it in place.

glue gun

Fluted sheeting can be screwed onto a wooden frame with short dry wall screws to form the sides of a crate.

photo

Or you can make a lightweight framework out of cornered strips  and screw them to a wooden platform.

screws

The various pieces can be hot glued or even taped together depending on how long the frame needs to last.

Kayak

To cover really long objects like this kayak, we built the frame out of the fluted plastic and then used sheets of plastic to make the cover to keep rain and dust off.

umiak covered

Another cool trick is to hot glue a sheet of mylar in so that you can keep track of how the object is doing during transport.

lincoln

You can also create quick storage bins for framed artwork. The sheets not only form the outside of the box but also separate the bin into slots for the framed art.  These can be wrapped in plastic and move on 4 wheel dollys.

bins

Conclusions

If you are having to crate up or build temporary covers for a lot of large objects for a short move into a neighboring building, having some additional construction material choices is a good thing.  Fluted plastic sheeting is a tough, lightweight material that is quick to cut and shape.  These are the main advantages of choosing this material over plywood.

Some other things to consider when choosing fluted plastic sheets:

  • Beware sharp corners and edges.  It can cut you like a paper cut.
  • The plastic is a little static-y so it will pick up dust and other debris from the surface that you are cutting it on.  It is not a good idea to lay it on the floor to cut it.
  • The surface is slick.  Artifacts tend to shift and slide more than on grey board.

All in all, we found that fluted plastic sheets helped us solve some of the problems we have encountered when moving every single object out of our museum building.


return to top

Ask ASM

Question: I have a question that maybe you can answer.  Is there a difference between the two titles “Museum” and “Heritage Center”?  And do they serve different purposes or do they serve the same way except they have a different title?  Can a Museum be a Heritage Center or can a Heritage Center be a Museum?

ASM:  That is a good question!  But there isn’t really a good answer for it.  Mostly it is a matter of opinion and you can call your institution anything you want.  I think it mostly depends on what the institutions primary mission is.  One of the primary missions of a museum, and the one that distinguishes it from other great organizations, like galleries, visitor centers and even heritage centers, is to care for objects in perpetuity (forever!).  This is considered the “public trust duty” of a museum.  If a Heritage Center is caring for objects in perpetuity, then at least part of it is functioning like a museum.  The most important thing to consider is that you will be held to the standards of the name you select.  If you call yourself a museum, then you will be held to national museum standards.  Its kind of like the word “Hospital.”  We all have an expectation for what goes on in a hospital and we would not want to go to a place that was only “sort of” a hospital.  The same is true for a museum.  You can’t just pick and choose the parts you like and leave the other parts out.  Some people want to use the word “museum” to describe their institution when it comes to attracting the public, or to apply for funding, but when it comes to the hard part of caring for collections then they are suddenly something else.  Yes, there are different kinds of hospitals and there are different kinds of museums.  But you know that you go to a hospital to get well and we know that museums are places where artifacts are kept safe and the collections care standards are built around that goal.

I am not sure if Heritage Centers have nationally recognized standards or an accrediting body like museums do.  I couldn’t find anything online that seemed to suggest they do.  I did find this interesting chart from Jill Norwood of the National Museum of the American Indian on the AAM website for peer reveiers http://www.aam-us.org/resources/assessment-programs/peer-review/peer-review-newsletter/special-considerations-for-reviewing-tribal-museums

Operational Area Mainstream Museums Tribal Museums
Collections
  • preserve
  • store
  • kept from public
  • protected but used by practitioners
Exhibitions
  • academic
  • scholarly
  • elite
  • local
  • community-centric
Programming
  • expensive
  • focused on what audience desires
  • free
  • affordable
  • focused on community
Policies
  • exclusive
  • restrictive
  • inclusive of community and protected from “outsiders”

Heritage Centers seem to be more about celebrating and perpetuating living cultures and less about collecting and preserving artifacts, although they often seem to do a little of both.


return to top

Shaking the Money Tree

Reminder:  Grant in Aid applications are due June 2, 2002.  You can find information about this program from our Grants webpage http://museums.alaska.gov/grants.html

Spotlight on Grant in Aid

Kodiak Maritime Museum

Page photo

As part of the Kodiak Maritime Museum’s (KMM) long term effort to upgrade its collections management, and with funding from the 2013 Grant in Aid program, KMM contracted in 2012 with Anjuli Grantham of Fireweed Historical Services to sort through a collection of images taken by Kodiak photographer Roger Page in the 1970s and 1980s. Roger Page died in 1990, and his sister Lauretta Johnson donated the images to KMM in 2010. Of the hundreds of images donated by Lauretta Johnson, 243 were identified as relevant to KMM’s mission to “recognize, preserve, and interpret Kodiak’s maritime heritage.” These photographs and negatives were sorted by Ms. Grantham by subject such as “ports and canneries,” “fishing boats,” and “Crab Festival,” stored in archival sleeves, and accessioned into KMM’s PastPerfect collections database.

Roger page files

As part of the grant project, Ms. Grantham also worked with KMM Board Member Marnie Leist to create a Collections Policy for Kodiak Maritime Museum, which addresses KMM’s circumstances and long term collection goals. The Board is now reviewing this draft with an eye toward adopting it in December.

return to top

Alaska Museums in the News

Exhibit variety plan for Sitka Museum

http://www.adn.com/2014/04/13/3423546/exhibit-variety-plan-for-sitka.html

Addison Field Named Chief Curator of the Alaska State Museums

http://juneauempire.com/art/2014-04-03/field-named-chief-curator-alaska-state-museum#.U1cIHPldV8E

Professional Development/Training Opportunities

BASIC ARCHIVAL TRAINING

May 14, 2014    8:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Alaska & Polar Regions Collections & Archives, UAF

 The Alaska State Historical Records Advisory Board (ASHRAB) will sponsor Basic Archival Training May 14, 2014 from 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM in the multi-media classroom located on the third level of the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library.  The training will be conducted by ASHRAB members that are trained archivists.

In this workshop you will:

  • Learn about archival terminology, ethical responsibilities & outreach
  • Learn the principles of archival organization & functions: provenance, respect des fonds & original order
  • Master the fundamentals of acquisition, appraisal, arrangement, description & preservation of archives
  • Examine successful reference & access strategies
  • Understand how to deal with collection water emergencies

There is no registration fee or cost to attendees.

To register for the training contact dean.dawson@alaska.gov prior to May 9th.

***Scholarships***

Deadline for scholarship applications is April 24th

Ten travel scholarships are available up to $1000 each.  To access the Scholarship Application Questionnaire go to the State Archives website here http://archives.alaska.gov/home.html under “What’s Happening” and submit to Dean Dawson, State Archivist.

 * * * Instructors * * *

 Bruce Parham is the retired director of the National Archives & Records Administration in Anchorage. He has 37 years of experience in planning and directing archival and records management programs and activities.  Bruce has a bachelor’s degree in History from Western State College of Colorado and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Library Science) and University of Colorado-Boulder (History).  He currently serves on the Board of the Cook Inlet Historical Society.

Dennis Moser is the Head of the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives at the Rasmuson Library of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  Dennis has a master’s degree in library science from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Texas.

Zachary R. Jones is the Archivist & Collection Manager for the Sealaska Heritage Institute. Zach obtained a bachelor’s degree in History from Utah State University, a master’s in Comparative History from the College of William & Mary, and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Archives & Records Administration from University of Wisconsin.  Jones is also an Adjunct Instructor of History at UAS. Jones is currently a Ph.D. student in Ethnohistory via UAF.

Dean Dawsonserves as State Archivist and has 30 years of archival records management experience.  He attained a Certified Records Manager credential, archival certificate, and holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Northern Iowa.

MAY DAY

May Day http://www.heritagepreservation.org/mayday/index.html

Every year Heritage Preservation encourages libraries, museums, archives, historical societies, and preservation organizations to set aside May 1 to participate in MayDay, a global effort to encourage emergency preparedness.

Heritage Preservation is collecting examples of the simple preparedness steps that cultural organizations are undertaking this spring. It’s easy to take part in MayDay. Last year’s participants held fire safety sessions, inventoried emergency supply kits, and created and updated disaster plans. Any cultural institution submitting a brief description of its 2014 MayDay plans or accomplishments by May 31, 2014, will be entered in a drawing for disaster supplies generously donated by Gaylord Brothers.

From now through May 31, Heritage Preservation is also offering its award-winning Field Guide to Emergency Response and Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel at special MayDay prices. And our ERS: Emergency Response and Salvage app remains free of charge for Apple, Android, and BlackBerry devices. In addition, David Carmicheal’s book Implementing the Incident Command System at the Institutional Level will also be offered at a discounted rate.

Be sure to check out Heritage Preservation’s Facebook page for weekly disaster preparedness tips throughout the month of May.
America’s PrepareAthon! is a national and community-based campaign for action designed to increase emergency preparedness and resilience. The overarching goal of the campaign is to increase the number of people who understand the hazards most relevant to their community, know the steps to take to protect themselves and their families and practice these steps.

America’s PrepareAthon! builds on existing preparedness campaigns by providing free downloadable materials including step-by-step implementation guides for workplaces, schools, houses of worship, community-based organizations, and the whole community to learn the steps people should take to be ready should a disaster occur. Actions include signing up for mobile alerts and warnings, holding a preparedness discussion and conducting a drill so people are familiar with what to do beforehand.

Throughout the year, organizations can organize community days of action to encourage individuals to discuss, practice, and train for relevant hazards.  Twice a year, in the spring and fall, America’s PrepareAthon! will hold two national days of action. The national day of action is April 30, 2014 and will focus on preparing organizations and individuals for tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, and wild fires. The second national day of action year will be September 30, 2014.

To learn more about America’s PrepareAthon!, its supporters and to register your activity, visit www.ready.gov/prepare. Follow the latest preparedness conversation on Twitter @PrepareAthon using #PrepareAthon. If you have any questions, please send your comments to PrepareAthon@fema.dhs.gov.

return to top

 Professional Time Wasting on the Web

The Color of Light

http://www.getty.edu/conservation/our_projects/science/art_LA/artist.html

We Love Museums…Do Museums Love Us Back?

http://www.pinkyshow.org/projectarchives/videos/we-love-museums-do-museums-love-us-back

Anatomy of a Mermaid/merman

http://www.theguardian.com/science/animal-magic/2014/apr/16/mermaid-stripped-naked

Visit to Seward’s House

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140331/sewards-day-visit-home-man-who-bought-alaska

The New Rijksmuseum (cool video of the renovation)

http://vimeo.com/91439084

Start-up Museums: who cares

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/start-up-museums-the-exhibition-teams/2014/03/27/9e1e3354-b35f-11e3-8cb6-284052554d74_story.html

Nina Simon and the Wisdom of the Crowd

http://leadershipmatters1213.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/nina-simon-and-the-wisdom-of-the-crowd/

Creativity in Museum Practice

http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/76844/building-a-creative-culture

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alaska State Museums Bulletin 74

Printable Version

Contents:

A Museum Move Lesson
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web

 

A Museum Move Lesson:  A Moving Experience is Also Physical

A perspective from Lisa Golisek, Alaska State Museum Protections and Visitors Services Manager (aka Admin Move Branch Team Leader)

IMG_4839

It’s March 2014 and we are in the midst of the Alaska State Museum’s “big move.” As mentioned in previous bulletins, the move encompasses relocating the Alaska State Museum’s collections, staff, supplies and equipment by May – just a few months away.  We have developed two main branches under which teams have been established to handle the move; the collection move branch and the Admin move branch.  Between the two branches everything in the museum will be moved. The Admin Move Branch team, like the collections branch team, is amazing and has years of experience with the museum, I would never want to go through a move without their professional knowledge and skills, however we are definitely a brains over brawn group.  This is where moving companies play a role. We value our move team for their intellect, but we needed contracted movers for their muscle and youthful energy.

move stuff

To save yourself time, money, chaos, and keep the museum safe and secure, I submit the attached checklist in preparation for working with a move company.

Preparing to Move with a Contracted Moving Company:

  • Delineate a space to stack materials near the freight door for transfer out of the building
  • Inventory items to be moved and make a checklist of the order you want the items moved. Include pickup and delivery stops if there are multiple destinations
  • Create a move plan and go over it with the moving company supervisor when you schedule a move.
    • The plan should include:
      • List of items and the dimension and/or cubic footage of material to be moved
      • Perceived challenges associated with the move, such as a 3’x4’x3’ cabinet that needs to be moved up a flight of 40-inch wide staircase with a landing and a turn at the top
      • Estimate on time to accomplish the move. Experience is the best teacher on how much time you will need to budget for the move.  If you are a novice to working with a moving company, discussing the move plans in advance will allow them to determine a time estimate
      • List of equipment and supplies the company needs to provide including the truck! Lift gates, straps, moving blankets, hand trucks, palette jacks, suction cups for moving glass are equipment you’ll need to request or they likely won’t bring it
  • If the move is complicated and involves sensitive, confidential or irreplaceable objects, schedule a walk-through with the movers and ask the company for background checks on employees. Avoid working with contractors that have convictions of theft and vandalism in particular
  • Outline all the locations for pickup and delivery
  • Have one museum employee in charge of the movers at a time. Too many directors definitely leads to confusion, poor rapport, and slows the process
  • The employee in charge should escort the movers and oversees their work at all times.  Lack of supervision escalates the potential for damage and loss

IMG_4833

When the movers arrive:

  • Sign them in, provide badges, go over security rules that apply, and make copies of their ID’s particularly if they are working with them in secured areas and they are assisting with a collections move
  • Provide the movers with a checklist of what needs to be done in the order it needs to happen
  • Show the movers the items to be moved and give them the opportunity to suggest or make changes to the order and methods of moving the objects if possible
  • Describe the contents of boxes and explain moving requirements and your expectations for handling the items.
  • Oversee what is being put in the truck so the movers don’t pick up pile in the wrong items.  Document what’s going in the

Two lessons learned from working with contracted movers during our office moves :

  1. You can expect moving equipment and supplies with a contracted moving company to require some of the same planning and coordination required for moving collections.
  2. You will likely suffer from some of the same obstacles and emotions involved with moving museum collections objects.


return to top

Ask ASM

Question:  We have a 100-year-old rusted steel flask of mercury in our heated museum building.  It is the size of a medium coffee thermos and holds about a cup of mercury.  Are we being foolish to keep the mercury?  If so, what should we do with it?

???????????????????????????????

ASM: You will need to dispose of it properly. It should not be a part of your museum collection.  Mercury does evaporate and the gas it forms is very toxic.    I would suggest contacting the state department of environmental conservation and ask them about the proper way to disposed of it.  They have a whole page dedicated to mercury on their website.

http://www.dec.state.ak.us/eh/mercury/

The contact is Mariena Brewer 907-269-1099 mariena.brewer@alaska.gov

return to top

Shaking the Money Tree

Museums Alaska

Collections Management Fund

This year, $100,000 in grants will be available to museums and cultural centers in Alaska for collections management supplies and activities. The goal is to build capacity for managing collections through professional expertise, training, and conservation materials and supplies.

The deadline to submit grant applications is Monday, March 31, 2014.

The next deadline will be September 30, 2014.

Applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit, government, tribal entities or equivalent organizations that hold collections in the public trust, such as a museum or cultural center. Small, rural-based organizations are encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to projects that are collaborative or cooperative in nature. Emergency conservation projects will be given priority. Membership in Museums Alaska is encouraged but not required.

You must apply online only through the link below.

Collections Management Fund Application 2014

Collections Management Fund Guidelines 2014

NEH

PRESERVATION ASSISTANCE GRANTS FOR SMALLER INSTITUTIONS: GUIDELINES NOW AVAILABLE!

The deadline for applications is May 1, 2014.

The National Endowment for the Humanities’ Division of Preservation and Access has offered Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions for more than a decade. These grants help small and mid-sized cultural heritage institutions such as libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, town and county records offices, and colleges and universities improve their ability to preserve and care for their humanities collections.  Awards of up to $6,000 support preservation related collection assessments, consultations, purchase of preservation supplies and equipment, training and workshops, and institutional and collaborative disaster and emergency planning.  Preservation Assistance Grants also support assessments of digital collections and education and training in standards and best practices for digital preservation, and the care and handling of collections during digitization.  NEH does not fund digitization or the development of digital programs in this grant category. 

All applications to the NEH must be submitted through Grants.gov. See the application guidelines for details.

The 2014 guidelines for Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions are available at http://www.neh.gov/grants/guidelines/pag.html. You will also find sample project descriptions, sample narratives, and a list of frequently asked questions.

 

See our feature article and interactive map of PAG awards across the country, up on our Web site now: http://www.neh.gov/divisions/preservation/preservation-and-access-grants-map

Small and mid-sized institutions that have never received an NEH grant are encouraged to apply. This year, we have added a special encouragement for applications from presidentially designated institutions (Hispanic-serving institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Tribal Colleges and Universities), and from Native American tribes with significant humanities collections.

For more information, contact the staff of NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access at 202-606-8570 and preservation@neh.gov

return to top

Spotlight on Grant in Aid

Big Change in GIA this year!

The Grant in Aid is moving entirely online.  You will be able to fill out any of the three GIA applications online this year.  We have moved the process to SurveyMonkey to make it more convenient to apply.

Here is how it works:

After April 1st you can go to our Grant Information webpage (http://museums.alaska.gov/)

click on one of the three links depending on what grant you are applying for.

(Remember we have kept the Mini-grant and the Internship grant applications very short so it is necessary to contact Scott Carrlee, Curator of Museums Services before you apply for either of these grants as a pre-application condition).

The application layout is very similar to the previous GIA applications and should be easy to follow.

information

SurveyMonkey will not time you out of an application but it does not allow for saving an application once you start.  So you will not be able to stop in the middle and come back to it.  For that reason we are providing a template for the Regular grant which has longer questions.  You can work on the template off-line and then cut and paste the text into the SurveyMonkey application.  The template can be found on the Grant information webpage

application

Applications must be filled out by 11:45 p.m. on June 2.

Once your application is on SurveyMonkey,  you will get a confirmation email.

All attachments or peripheral material can be emails to scott.carrlee@alaska.gov any time before June 2.

return to top

Alaska Museums in the News

The ASM Move of Collections

http://www.ktva.com/juneau-museum-prepares-for-new-era/

Maxwell Selected as Senior Curator of Programs for Ketchikan Museums

http://www.sitnews.us/0314News/031514/031514_ktn_museums.html

State Library Archives and Museums New Building: The Movie

http://www.ktoo.org/2014/03/17/slideshow-interior-work-underway-new-slam-vault/

Alaska Veterans Museum

http://tickerreport.com/press-releases/149410/the-alaska-veterans-museums-suellyn-wright-novak-to-be-featured-on-close-up-talk-radio/

Phase Change:  Museum’s last day of public operations

http://juneauempire.com/art/2014-02-27/phase-change#.Uw_Z9vldV8E

Final Friday marks last public day for Alaska State Museum

http://www.ktoo.org/2014/02/27/final-friday-marks-last-public-day-for-alaska-state-museum/

return to top

Professional Development/Training Opportunities

Connecting to Collections Webinars are back!!

Digital Collections: A Future for Small Museums

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 9 a.m. Alaska Time

Join us on Tuesday as we discuss digital collections and a few ways to create them. If you were unable to attend the Small Museum Association Conference in Ocean City, Maryland this year, this webinar is a great opportunity to catch one of the Conference’s workshops. Amanda Shepp will review the process of digital museum creation and ideas for small organizations. Bring your questions and ideas and get ready for the future!

You do not need to be a registered member of the Online Community to participate in this webinar. Simply go to the meeting room here:

http://www.connectingtocollections.org/meeting/

Once there, enter your name and location and click enter. You will be redirected to the webinar. If you’re having difficulty, please take a look at our technical check page. This live chat event is not like one of our online courses, no pre-registration is required. Simply log on during the time of the webinar. An archive of the event will be posted to the Online Community.

return to top

Professional Time Wasting on the Web

Let your finger do the reading.  Maybe we should pass these out at the front desk for exhibit label reading?

http://www.brimtime.com/2014/02/fingerreader-lets-you-hear-written-text.html#more

Dirty Car Art (this will really amaze  you!)

http://www.dirtycarart.com/

Smashing art is art

http://museumtwo.blogspot.com/2014/02/is-it-ok-to-smash-that-complications-of.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+museumtwo+%28Museum+2.0%29

The Art of Museum Exhibitions (radio program)

http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/76250/the-art-of-museum-exhibitions

Corcoran Dismantlement Offeres Lessons for Museums and Sites

http://engagingplaces.net/2014/03/18/corcoran-dismantlement-offers-lessons-for-museums-and-sites/

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alaska State Museums Bulletin 73

Printable Version

Contents:

A visit with Steve Brown
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web

 

Concertinas, Curators, Banjos, and Boats: A Visit with Steve Brown

By Jackie Fernandez, Curator of Collections, Sheldon Jackson Museum

SB lecture

During the second week of January the Sheldon Jackson Museum was fortunate enough to host former curator of Native American Art at the Seattle Art Museum, and renowned Northwest Coast carver and author Steve Brown. Brown came to Sitka to examine the museum’s 19th century Northwest Coast souvenir silver collection, identify styles, artists, and approximate year of make of Sitkans’ silver at “An Evening of Silver & Gold, a special Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum event, and to give a lecture at the Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum annual meeting.

The Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum is not part of the Alaska State Museum but a separate, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the Sheldon Jackson Museum and its unique Alaska Native ethnographic collection through advocacy, acquisition and educational programming. The Friends’ have been instrumental in providing support for educational programs, including the relatively new, very popular At Saxán (Love of All Things) Saturdays family-friendly youth program; the Native Artist Demonstrators Program, the museum’s artist-in-residence program; and in adding to the museum’s permanent collection, most notably, during the past several years, to the museum’s 19th century Northwest Coast silver souvenir holdings.

PC and SB

Peter Corey and Steve Brown chat about collections

The Friends, and in particular, the Friends recently retired board member, Peter Corey, and Business Manager, Mary Boose, were instrumental in coordinating Steve Brown’s visit. The Friends paid the expenses of his travel and time as a consultant, took the lead on arranging for the Evening of Silver & Gold graciously hosted by the Rain Dance Gallery owned and jointly ran by local artists Tommy Joseph and Kristina Cranston, and coordinated the annual meeting, silent auction to support the Native Artist Demonstrator Program, and Brown’s lecture on Kadjisdu.axtc, the man thought to have carved some of the best known masterworks of Tlingit art including house posts in the Whale House at Klukwan and at Chief Shakes’ House in Wrangell.

Sheldon Jackson Museum curator, Jacqueline Fernandez, took great pleasure in having the opportunity to discuss souvenir silver, a variety of the museum’s Northwest Coast artifacts and artwork, and during coffee breaks, Brown’s collection of nine banjos and two concertinas, and former life living aboard a 44 foot motor sailor moored at a the ship-canal marina in Ballard, Washington. Only two weeks after his visit to Sitka, Brown found himself back in town, this time, fogged in while en route to Juneau from Seattle to attend a meeting. Fernandez picked up Brown from the airport along with his concertina and he answered the following questions:

  1. Former SJM curator Peter Corey, a board member of the Friends of the SJM contacted you about coming to Sitka. This had been something he had been interested in doing for a long time. Can you tell me about how you know Peter.

I met Peter in early 70s. He had invited me to come to the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan to teach engraving the year after it opened…I think in 1977. That was my first trip to Alaska teaching here and we’ve kept in touch ever since. It’s also likely that I met Peter before then via Bill Holm at the Burke Museum.

  1. What were your initial thoughts about Peter Corey’s proposal? Why did this opportunity appeal to you?

It was a great excuse to come to Sitka. I wasn’t familiar with Northwest Coast silver collection, but I knew there was fairly extensive collection of souvenir silver. I was also interested in the possibility meeting other collectors in the area and felt like I might have something, some information about people’s silver that I could share with them.

The first time I had come to work with the Sheldon Jackson Museum, it was actually also something Pete set up – that time to copy three carvings – including reproductions of a wolf mask, a sea lion helmet, and a bear helmet…Those were done during several visits.

SJIA130b

I worked for Sitka National Historical Park a number of times, first in 81’ when I replicated totem poles, two poles with Nathan Jackson, and reconstructed the head of a totem pole there and did some repairs…I also made a set of masks that are in the SNHP collection, a set of four masks showing process from roughed out to finished piece.

  1. Can you describe some other similar projects you have done at other museums?

I don’t think I’ve done anything quite like the attribution project here. I’ve been to many museums. My favorite is the old Museum of the American Indian storage site in the Bronx (now in Maryland), though I suspect it’s different now….Back then, it was all on open shelving and densely packed…It made everything jump…They had boxes stacked on top of each other. It’s such a huge collection and only a fraction of it has been published so everything that you found was something totally unfamiliar and great.”

  1. Had you seen similar NWC souvenir silver collections and silver jewelry similar to that in the SJM collection before?

While I’ve seen similar souvenir spoons in other collections, this was the largest He had largest bunch of NWC souvenir silver I’d seen. [It should be noted that the museum has over one hundred pieces of Northwest Coast souvenir silver, including a variety of bracelets, spoons, pickle forks, butter knives, napkin rings, sugar tongs, and other items made in the 19th century. The silver collection includes pieces made by well-known Tlingit master artists Rudolph Walton, Silver Jim, and even a spoon made by the renowned Haida artist, Charles Edenshaw.]

SJ-2009-1-1 2013-1-1 2013-1-1 Detail of Handle SJIA898

  1. You yourself are an artist and a well-known carver. How does your eye as an artist assist you in your work in making attributions and identifying important stylistic details? I get the sense that you are able to look at art slightly differently than other scholars who may not practice an art form. Would you agree?

Yes. I think it’s important to have personal experience that informs your eye and your research, not only for silver work here, but replications in Wrangell. I wouldn’t feel as comfortable …reproducing every cut and adze mark on the house posts…you are forced to look at something more closely to reproduce it and as a consequence you see the differences more clearly from one artist’s work to another. [Brown was hired along with John Hagen and Wayne Price to replicate poles in the Chief Shakes House in Wrangell 1984, a project of a lifetime. Brown was able to ascertain that houseposts were likely carved by Kadjisdu.axtc, a historic attribution that had hitherto not been made.]

  1. What do you look for when attempting to make attributions?

In this field because Northwest Coast conventions are all used by a huge range of artists, how each individual artist interprets those shapes is really very individual. Even though the conventions of the art make it seem like you have to do certain things in a certain way…but in order for it to be a living part of a tradition …but an individual’s ability to interpret certain forms, particularly ovoid shapes and eyes and eyelid shapes – everybody does them, but they all do those things with really subtle, small personal variation and once you get used to seeing them, you can make certain comparisons and say well this looks like the same hand as this…

  1. You mentioned the ways in which pieces tarnish and discolor is one way to get a sense of the percentage of coin silver versus sterling versus copper in a piece. Can you describe what you look for to distinguish between pieces with higher percentages of coin silver compared to sterling?

Sterling looks whiter or paler…I think it’s the copper that accelerates the tarnish….Some of the ones here, I was surprised to see the warmth of the color really seemed to be leaning towards to copper end so may have had a little as 50 or 60% silver …Coin silver by definition can have a much as %90…..Heating also affects color and look…once you get to a certain temperature, copper flushes to the surface…shows up as kind of a weird shadowy looking surface…..

  1. At this point, SJM has a substantial number of souvenir pieces in the collection, the majority of which are spoons. Are there any kinds of pieces or silver souvenir artists you would recommend the museum pursue?

The number of bracelets in the collection right now are relatively small and that might be an interesting additional area for collecting….very small number of brooches too….I’m not sure how many other types [types of souvenir silver other than spoons] were made during that period – for example, at the Edenshaw exhibit there were maybe only two napkin rings on exhibit…a few cane ferules….

  1. Were you surprised by any of your findings at the museum?

I would say I was surprised by how much of this kind of thing there was in Sitka and in general. I just didn’t realize how much there was out there to collect…and the number of things to be recently acquired by the Friends or Peter Corey…

  1. Were you surprised by any of your findings during the Silver & Gold event? [At this fundraiser held for the Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum, individuals brought their silver and gold pieces to be looked at by Brown. Brown did not make any financial appraisals, but looked at the pieces and tried to identify the period they were made, the style they were done in, and who could have potential made them.]

People primarily brought bracelets….It was amazing to see the range of different engravers’ work and a fraction of them I was able to identify …just to see them all and the range was pretty amazing by itself …You get familiar with the names the researchers bring up, but then, there were all these others…and who they were and all is unknown…but just the fact that they were all there and that their work survived…

  1. What will you do with your findings from your visit?

Peter originally wanted me to produce an article that would then be submitted to American Indian Art…so that’s a possibility and I’d be willing to do that.

  1. Did your time in Sitka generate any new questions about souvenir silver that you are keen to further investigate?

I wonder what percentage of souvenir silver made was actually spoons or bracelets…you could look at museum collections, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect the percentage of artists working the field and what they actually made…only what museums acquired…

  1. Do you often have the opportunity to visit other museum collections and research their holdings? Is there a particular kind of collection or specific collection or museum you would like to research that you have not yet had the chance to work with?

There are places I haven’t been that I’d like to go to….I’d like to return to NMAI…I’d like to go to the Museum of Civilization in CA…I’ve been to the museum of American Indian storage, but there is so much there….

  1. What was your favorite piece in the collection that you saw while at SJM and why?

Taquan pole

My favorite object in the museum is the pole from Taquan…to me that is such an outstanding thing…and the fact that it wouldn’t have survived at all without having been brought here….. I also liked the elegant small grease dish made of Mountain ash in storage and the variety of canoe models….

SB grease dishgrease bowl

  1. You shared many insights with staff and the Friends of SJM and general public while you were here through your review of the collections, consultations, and even a visit to SNHP to look at a pre-contact grease bowl. Many in Sitka were able to benefit from your visit and learn from you. Did you leave Sitka with any new knowledge or interesting information?

I don’t know if I learned anything new necessarily, but I enjoyed seeing the range of silver here and just developing a greater familiarity with whole collection here…I don’t think I’d looked through the drawers in storage in back before.

  1. What is your next project?

I’m consulting with the Alaska State Museum headquarters in Juneau about their new installations and exhibitions.

The Sheldon Jackson Museum is grateful to Steve Brown for taking the time to research the silver souvenir collection and all of our Northwest Coast material and to the Friends of the Sheldon Jackson Museum for providing such wonderful support for our activities, educational and public programming, and acquisitions. If you want to learn more about this nonprofit organization or become a member, you can visit http://www.friendsofsjm.com/.

return to top

Ask ASM

Question:  Is it OK to write on CD/DVD’s and what kind of pen or marker should I use?

cd's

ASM: We hear this question a lot and I have seen it kicked around the MuseumL listserv.  Here are a couple of the better responses I have seen there.

From Todd Hopkins, Hillman & Carr Inc.

It’s all theoretical, based on the reaction of the alcohol with the label.  I’ve been working with optical for as long as it’s been around and have not experienced a failure of any kind other than scratching or incompatible burns.

The “safest” marking method I’ve heard described is to use a fine point permanent marker on the hub area only.  Generally, these systems simply use reference numbers coded to a separate database or simply a separate “label” stored with but not attached to the disc.

Paper labels = very, very bad!  Never use ANY kind of adhesive label.  That is unequivocal.  Your disc will be unusable, sooner rather than later, and the odds of destroying a drive along the way are high.

Recently I’ve been using the “CD/DVD” markers from Sharpie.  These are a bit hard to find and look and behave like regular Sharpies, but are supposed to be safe for optical discs.  I like them better than the water based pens I’ve used previously.  I also use only “printable” stock, even when I don’t intend to use a printer.  These discs have an extra print layer that adds protection and is meant to take ink.

From Douglas Nishimura, Image Permanence Institute

Right. No one really knows quite what to expect, but here are some concerns:

1)      Softness of the tip. This is why ballpoint pen is not recommended. A small amount of force applied to a very tiny hard tip may cause enough local pressure to produce delamination.  This is the spiked heels on a soft floor problem on a smaller scale. Fiber tipped markers were once assumed to be softer and broader, but aren’t necessarily. If I can still do math on a Monday, a quarter pound resting on a 0.7 mm pen tip is equivalent to 419 pounds per square inch and this is why the concern.

2)      Solvent/carrier fluid. The upper transparent layer has been polycarbonate (and probably still is.) We know that polycarbonate is sensitive to a pretty broad range of solvents that can cause the polymer to crack, craze, or shatter (depending on what internal stresses have been locked in) and this potential weakness was illustrated in the 1980s with people doing their own artistic additions to polycarbonate bicycle and motorcycle helmets. These head protections then failed to do their jobs and would readily shatter on impact resulting in severe head injuries. In addition to applications of paint and spray paint, felt tipped markers had been used to decorate so there is concern that the pen solvent/carrier fluid may cause the polycarbonate layer to swell, crack, craze, or delaminate if the wrong pen is used.  Given the unknown potential for damage, the conservative approach would be to avoid markers (although peeling adhesive labels are known to cause stress delamination so they aren’t necessarily a good alternative.)

return to top

Shaking the Money Tree

IMLS Receives Increase in Funding

In January, President Barack Obama signed into law a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the federal government through the end of September, 2014. The legislation includes $226,860,000 for IMLS which is roughly $7 million more than the FY13 budget, partially restoring the funding cuts that were part of sequestration. The appropriation is about $1 million more than the IMLS FY 2014 Request.

The total amount appropriated for libraries, which is through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), increased from $175,044,000 in FY 2013 to $180,909,000 for FY 2014. The total for the Office of Museum Services is $30.1 million, a $900,000 increase from the FY 2013, post-sequestration total.

return to top

Spotlight on Grant in Aid

The Seward Museum used a FY2012 Mini-grant to help with their move of collections to their new museum.  During the late months of 2012, 5 hard core volunteers diligently worked with Amy Carney, then Seward Community Library Museum Collections Coordinator, to carefully clean, catalog and pack the collection of the Seward Museum in preparation for moving into our new facility. On December 17 the crew of World Wide Movers, who had initially balked when asked to move the museum collection, heaved sighs of relief when they saw the careful and study packing job that had been done. The movers were able to complete what they thought would have been a 3-4 day job in 2 days.

???????????????????????????????

But then the work began again. These same volunteers began the painstaking process of creating a home for Seward’s history in the new space. The mini-grant funds were used for a lot of little things that were needed to make the new space a workable museum, especially in preparation for opening on May 11, 2013. There were many trips to the local hardware store for small tools, nails, screws and any other imaginable device that would allow the museum crew to get the exhibits and storage space workable.

???????????????????????????????

Once the space became usable the supply list that was detailed in the original application was reviewed and submitted to purchase storage materials to begin the process of creating secure, archival storage and display spaces for the objects.

return to top

Alaska Museums in the News

Wrangell Museum hunts for feet

http://www.kstk.org/2014/02/04/wrangell-museum-hunts-for-feet/

Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities

http://juneauempire.com/art/2014-01-30/governors-awards-arts-humanities-be-celebrated-tonight#.UvKaj_ldV8E

Artists named for Alaska Public art project

http://www.newsminer.com/news/local_news/artists-named-for-alaska-public-art-project/article_65908f3a-8d7d-11e3-88d6-001a4bcf6878.html

return to top

Professional Development/Training Opportunities

Native American Museum Studies Institute:

A Professional Development Opportunity for Tribal Museum Professionals

June 2-6, 2014

To be held at University of California, Berkeley

Goal: to develop the capacity of tribal community members to:

  • Conserve and revitalize tribal cultural heritage
  • Foster tribal representations and partnerships
  • Educate tribal and non-tribal communities through museum development and exhibits

Workshop topics will include:

  • Collections Management and Cataloging
  • Conservation/Collections Care
  • Curation and Exhibit Design
  • Educational Programming
  • Museum Management
  • Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
  • Museum Fundraising
  • Tribal Partnerships and Collaborations with Counties, States, and Agencies

Eligibility:

  • Priority will be given to those already working or volunteering with a tribe’s collection in a museum or in another tribal cultural preservation project
  • Those planning a museum or other cultural preservation project may also apply and may be accepted depending upon availability

Expense:

  • The training is tuition free to the participants; lunch is provided
  • Participants will be responsible for their other meals, lodging, and travel expenses (see website for more details). Partial travel stipends may be available in case of financial need.

Application:

  • Review of applications will begin on March 3, 2014.
  • Space is limited
  • Application form and complete application instructions can be downloaded from our website at http://crnai.berkeley.edu/ or obtained via fax or mail by calling 510-643-7238.

Sponsors:

-Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues, UC Berkeley

-California Indian Museum and Cultural Center

-Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Co-Sponsors:

C.N. Gorman Museum, UC Davis

Center for Digital Archaeology, UC Berkeley

For more information, call Deborah Lustig at 510-643-7238 or email namsiucb@gmail.com

Conferences

Poles, Posts and Canoes: the Preservation, Conservation and Continuation of Native American Monumental Wood Carving

July 21st – 22nd, 2014, Tulalip, Washington

The call for papers has been extended to February 28th, 2014.  We still have a few spaces for presentations, especially those angled towards general collections management, display and use of these objects in native and non-native managed museums, and the use in a museum setting of traditional means of maintenance.  For full details of proposal requirements, as well as registration information for both the symposium and the totem pole maintenance workshop that follows on July 23rd – 25th July, please visit http://www.hibulbculturalcenter.org/Events/Symposium/

International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection

We are pleased to announce that this year’s conference will be held in our home state of Colorado.  We’re planning 2 days of general sessions, certification courses, breakout sessions, exhibits, and museum excursions in downtown Denver, followed by 2 days of special sessions, networking, and historic excursions in the Colorado mountains.

The conference is tentatively scheduled for August 9-14:

•             Saturday and Sunday pre-conference cultural activities and welcome reception

•             Monday and Tuesday educational sessions, exhibits, and nighttime activities in downtown Denver

•             Wednesday and Thursday seminars and activities in the Rocky Mountains

Significant lodging discounts will be available, and package deals for all conference offerings.  We plan to confirm dates within a week, and have registration available in mid-February.  Stay tuned for web site updates and email announcements. http://ifcpp.org/

return to top

Professional Time Wasting on the Web

On the ground: A tale of two museums

The power and limits of what money and space can do for teaching science to the public

http://scienceline.org/2014/01/on-the-ground-a-tale-of-two-museums/

Poor tradeoffs, the Randall College controversy

http://www.artsjournal.com/realcleararts/2014/02/poor-trade-off-bellows-to-london-but-one-bright-side.html

Giant sinkhole swallows cars at Corvette Museum

http://corvettemuseum.org/enews/backups/media/sinkhole.htm

The unsettling state of state historical societies

http://engagingplaces.net/2014/02/11/unsettling-state-of-state-historical-societies/

Mold mars 600,000 MU volumes stored at off-campus facility

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/education/mold-mars-mu-volumes-stored-at-off-campus-facility/article_cac3a588-884e-11e3-a89a-10604b9f1ff4.html

What not to do with kids at a museum

http://hyperallergic.com/105448/what-not-to-do-with-kids-in-a-museum/

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alaska State Museums Bulletin 72

Printable Version

Contents:

The Arctic Drum
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web

 

Editors Note:  The following article was submitted for publication by Asta Mønsted who was born and raised in Uummannaq, Greenland. Currently she is studying for her Master’s degree in Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. She also works as a guide in the Arctic collection at the National Museum of Denmark.

The Arctic drum – a drum beat is heard coming from Greenland

 By Asta Mønsted

Asta

The drum has a special place in the heart of the Arctic people. The Arctic drum is namely much more than just a musical instrument. The drum has been strongly connected with shamanism, but was also used by villagers for entertainment purposes (i.e. drum songs) and judicial decisions. The Arctic drum is deeply rooted in the Inuit culture and, archaeologically, it can be traced back to some of the earliest Arctic societies. Geographically, the traces of the Arctic drum are wide spread starting in Eastern Siberia crossing the Bering Sea to Alaska and further into Northern Canada and ending up on the island of Greenland. These deep and extensive roots connected the Inuit people of the past – as they do today. Our culture and cultural remains originate from the same source and, therefore, an archaeological project concerning Arctic drum fragments in Greenland is considered relevant to readers of an Alaskan newsletter. Now that it’s dark and cold outside, I will do as the traditional Inuit’s did during this time of year: I will tell you a story. It’s an old story of the arctic drum – but with a modern twist.

Figure 1

Following the traces of the drum

During the cold and dark month of January 2013, my ongoing interest in the Arctic drum started and I realized that I had found the subject for my upcoming bachelors dissertation. As I started to unravel the ancient story of the Arctic drum through the use of ethnographic documentation, I realized that these drum fragments could be traced back in time to the Thule culture (approx. 1200-1900 AD), the Dorset culture (approx. 650-1200 AD) and even further into the Saqqaq culture (approx. 2.500-800 BC), which, in Greenland, are some of the earliest people to inhabit the island – around 4.500 years ago. Nonetheless, a question which kept haunting me was how these drum fragments could be recognized without the recovery of a complete drum? The Arctic soil has some of the world’s best conditions for artefact preservation of organic materials, which the museum collections are solid proof of. But even so, archaeologists rarely excavate complete drums which were generally made from animal remains (i.e. bone, antler, skin and internal organs).

The drum’s “fingerprint”

During the next couple of months I sat at the National Museum of Denmark studying artefacts excavated in Greenland, by the Danish Arctic archaeologist Therkel Mathiassen in 1933. The artefacts had all been labelled as ‘drum fragments’, and so I tried to figure out why. Based on my analysis, I created a thesis which outlined how to recognize a drum frame and a drum handle, respectively. The drum frame needs a groove on the outside of the frame in order to tie down the drum skin. In the meantime, the drum handle is in need of a slot for it to be latched onto the drum frame (See picture below).

drum handle

Unfortunately, other parts of the Arctic drum are very difficult to recognize during excavation. Take the drum skin for example; this part was primarily made of the spleen, bladder or skin of a walrus or other large seals. These materials are the most likely to decay, and if the drum skin had been removed from the frame, then it is even more difficult to argue, that it was a drum skin and not part of some other artefact. Speaking of ASM drumdrum skins, I have realized that the Alaska State Museum houses some gorgeous historic drums, where the skins have been painted in beautiful colours and motives!  If you have not been to see them yet, you ought to. Sadly, I have not stumbled upon any painted drum skins during my studies of the Greenlandic drum materials, but your decorated drum skins tell me that I should not rule out this idea. The origin of the drum Since the Arctic drum was introduced to Greenland from the western part of the Arctic, I wanted to test out whether or not these two Greenlandic drum characteristics (i.e. the groove and slot) could be transferred to drums from respectively; Canada, Alaska and Siberia.

map

During this investigation I concluded, that the Arctic drum came in various shapes, sizes and construction forms. With the help of Ellen Carrlee, the conservator at Alaska State Museum, I realized that some drums could e.g. hold the drum skin by sandwiching it between two drum frames – and thereby avoid the groove on the drum frame. An example from St. Lawrence, Alaska shows that the drum handle could also be carved on the side of the drum frame, and therefore did not need a slot to connect the two pieces (see picture below).

drum part

An example from Birnirk, Alaska shows another way of avoiding the slot on the drum handle, since; in this case, the handle was inserted through a hole on the side of the drum frame (Picture below).

drum rim

Another interesting observation was done, when I examined the oldest dated drum fragments from Greenland. Two pieces of a drum rim were excavated at Qajaa and Qeqertasussuk, respectively, which revealed similarities, not to other Greenlandic drums, but to Alaskan drums (see picture below).

pieces of rim

Both drum rims were thicker than observed on other Greenlandic drums, while the curve of the rim fragments indicated a full rim diameter between 60-75 centimetres. So while the average drum rim in Greenland is approx. 30-40 centimetres in diameter, these older drum parts appear to have a stronger connection to the drums from where the Inuit culture originated – the western part of the Arctic. This may not be so surprising, but nevertheless, it is interesting since it shows how deeply connected the Inuit cultures were nearly 4.500 years ago, when the first Inuit people coming from the West set foot on new land; Greenland. Being nomadic in nature, they brought all of their belongings with them – among them the iconic drum; and some of these drum fragments ended up in my hands for analysis! What a journey. This is the end of my part of the story. Now someone else might pick up from where I left, in an attempt to figure out whether or not one can also establish characteristic traits in drum fragments from archaeological materials found in Alaska. As an old shaman said: “The only thing we know for certain, is that what shall happen, will happen”. Thank you for listening to a fellow ‘inuk’.

IMG_0857


 Return to top

Ask ASM

Question:  Recently a pair of Made in the USA XtraTuf rubber boots were donated to the museum. They are covered in fish scales. I don’t want to remove the scales, since they are critical to the history and convey the use of the boots, plus the scales are visually compelling. Yet, I am concerned that they may attract pests. What is your inclination- remove or keep the scales?

???????????????????????????????

I would like to feature the boots in a permanent exhibit about local commercial fisheries, yet the exhibit will not be mounted for several years. Do you have any suggestions about storage mounts or materials while the boots are not on exhibit? Are there any conservation concerns that I should be aware of for when they are exhibited?

ASM:  That is a really interesting artifact and so iconic to Alaska.  I can see why you would want to put it in the exhibit.  First off you should know that anything made of rubber or neoprene is really hard to preserve.  It has what we call “inherent vice.”  Which is just a fancy way of saying it is going to fall apart on its own no matter what we do.  We can slow down the deterioration but we can’t completely halt it.  The clock is ticking.  Other artifacts with inherent vice are nitrate negatives.  When an institution has a large, important collection of nitrate film, they sometimes put them in cold storage, like a refrigerator or an entire cold vault.  In your case that might be difficult to achieve, especially during the time you put it on exhibit.  And the cold might cause some dimensional change (shrinkage) which could cause the fish scales to pop off.  So we have to take all the materials into consideration and also balance preservation with the resources that are available.  I would recommend that for short term you photograph and document the present condition in a very thorough manner.  For storage, you could gently wrap each boot in several layers of acid-free buffered tissue paper.  The buffering agents in the tissue paper will help absorb the off-gassing that will occur as the rubber breaks down.  These are generally sulfur products that result from the breakdown of the organic components in the rubber.  If they are absorbed they tend to get somewhat neutralized and are less likely to cause the rubber to break down further.

As for the exhibit end of things, that is really tricky.  The scales are being held on by fish slime I assume.  That is interesting.  Fish glue has been used as an adhesive for centuries but sticking anything to rubber can be a challenge.  So it might only be a matter of time before they start to fall off.  I would really limit the handling of them in the first place.  It would be best if they could be in their own exhibit case or even a case within a case.  There are VOC scavengers that you can line the case with.  It is a kind of paper or cloth that has activated charcoal in it which absorbs the VOC’s.  Make sure the boots have low light levels on them and the RH is stable.  All of these things will contribute to preserving these.

There is also a whole discussion we could have about whether to accession items like these into the permanent collection or to just consider them exhibit props.  But maybe we should save that for another time.

 Return to top

Shaking the Money Tree

Heritage Preservation

CAP Applications Available

Heritage Preservation is pleased to announce that the 2014 Conservation Assessment Program application are available at: http://www.heritagepreservation.org/CAP/index.html. Paper applications are available upon request.

Applications must be postmarked, submitted online, or emailed no later than 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 14th. We encourage museums to apply as soon after the application release as possible, as we always receive more applicants than we are able to fund.

Questions may be directed to CAP staff at cap@heritagepreservation.org, or 202-233-0800.

IMLS

Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries. The application deadline is February 3, 2014.

Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries are small grants that encourage libraries and archives to prototype and evaluate innovations that result in new tools, products, services, or organizational practices. They enable grantees to undertake activities that involve risk and require them to share project results–whether they succeed or fail–to provide valuable information to the library field and help improve the ways libraries serve their communities.

The funding range is from $10,000 to $25,000, and there are no matching requirements. Projects must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2014. Click here for program guidelines and more information about the funding opportunity.

 Return to top

Spotlight on Grant in Aid

The Juneau-Douglas City Museum’s Education Collection Re-Organization Project assisted the Museum in completing its first thorough education collection inventory.

old storage

Storage for education clothing before the project

This grant provided funding to hire a contractor to accession the education collection into PastPerfect and for improved storage solutions for the education collection.  The ability to purchase storage lockers, flat file drawers, and storage carts enabled the collection to be housed more efficiently in the same area of the basement where all education collection items are in one location. 

labeling

Storage for education clothing after project. 

Furniture not accessioned into the collection used for education hands-on rooms or exhibit props is still housed in an off-site storage location.  Funding enabled the purchase of archival boxes for the collections so that items can be stored with care, such as hat boxes for the hats so they are not crushed, and compartment trays for antique jewelry, light bulbs, collection shells, etc.

cart

jewery

The contractor completed 100 hours of work and 550 new scans with associated data entry on 467 education items into PastPerfect.  This project allowed the culling of items that were broken, worn, or not preferred for hands on use.  Some items culled were old-fashioned clothing that was torn or worn and hats that were no longer in good repair from the dress-up closet. Old/antique books were culled and discarded which were not suitable for the hands-on room because of the content or the condition of the book. Other items that were culled were mining implements that were rusty or sharp, bits of glass and beach-combing that has been put on the education shelf, but never inventoried, and toys that were broken from use in previous hands-on rooms.

With the education collection now in PastPerfect, Museum staff can search the collection for specific requests and with the goal of the future creation of education kits that can be loaned out to teachers for use in the classroom.  Weaknesses within the collection related to education kit goals and teacher requests can be identified and filling these gaps can begin.  The grant project enabled them to create postcards to be delivered to the schools announcing our education collection to teachers to take a look at, become excited about, and think about how items can fit into their classroom.  An added bonus, with more efficient storage we have gleaned more space at our offsite storage facility.

 Return to top

Alaska Museums in the News

Discovery of a rare Tlingit War Helmet causes media stir

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20131218/rare-tlingit-war-helmet-discovered-massachusetts-museum-archives

http://www.springfieldmuseums.org/news/view/762-a_hidden_treasure_revealed_rare_tlingit_war_helmet_discovered_at_springfield_science_museum

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/12/rare_tlingit_war_helmet_discov.html

http://www.wggb.com/2013/12/18/a-hidden-treasure-revealed/

https://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20140107/emergence-rare-tlingit-war-helmet-raises-chorus-homecoming

 Return to top

Professional Development/Training Opportunities

 

PastPerfect Training

Cataloging Collections with PastPerfect 5.0

February 11-13 | 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET (7:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. PT)

Cataloging Collections with PastPerfect 5.0 demonstrates how using PastPerfect can speed up your data entry process. In this three-day course, our trainers will demonstrate how to use authority files, attach digital images, keep your data safe, and much more. With a focus on efficiency, this class will walk step by step through the accession process from the moment “a man walks in with a box.” New users of PastPerfect will learn recommended methods for consistent collections data entry; experienced users will pick up tips to maximize their use of the program. Registered participants will be sent a free copy of the Cataloging Collections with PastPerfect 5.0 Training CD, which complements this course.

Researching and Reporting with PastPerfect 5.0

March 18-19 | 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ET (7:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. PT)

Research and Reporting with PastPerfect 5.0 is a two-day course that demonstrates how researching and reporting on your collections, donations and membership dues in PastPerfect is straightforward and effective. This course reviews PastPerfect’s research options, highlights commonly-used reports from PastPerfect’s 300+ built-in reports, and teaches easy-to-use tools to modify existing reports and create your own reports using Report Maker. Registered participants will receive a free copy of the Research and Reporting with PastPerfect 5.0 Training CD, which complements this course.

Costs:  $69 per person,

Course descriptions as well as additional training options can be found at our website.

 Jennessa Reed, Training Coordinator
PastPerfect Software, Inc.
Training@museumsoftware.com
1-800-562-6080
 

CONSULTING ARCHIVIST PROGRAM

The Alaska State Historical Records Advisory Board (ASHRAB) has initiated a program to provide hands-on consultation to six small field archives across Alaska. Experienced archivists from the Sealaska Heritage Institute, University of Alaska Anchorage Archives & Special Collections, University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska & Polar Regions Collections, and Alaska State Archives will conduct preliminary work and travel to rural locations between mid-February and May to selected institutions to make best-practices recommendations at no cost to the field institution.

The program, sponsored by the ASHRAB and the National Historical Publications & Records Commission, will provide three days on-site consultation about archival policies, procedures, and confidentiality of materials. The visiting archivist will address appraisal, description, arrangement, conservation needs, access, and security of archival documents. The archivist will provide training to assist staff in managing and preserving unique, irreplaceable materials.

Those interested in participating in the program must complete an application questionnaire by January 30, 2014. ASHRAB will select the institutions to receive assistance in mid-February.

For an application questionnaire or more information, contact State Archivist Dean Dawson at dean.dawson@alaska.gov.

Poles, Posts and Canoes: the Preservation, Conservation and Continuation of Native American Monumental Wood Carving.

July 21st – 22nd, 2014, Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve, Tulalip, Washington (Opening Ceremony and Dinner, July 20th, 2014)

This two day symposium (preceded by an opening ceremony and meal on the evening of July 20th) will gather Native and non-Native museum professionals, tribal members, and contemporary Native carvers to discuss the challenges of preserving and exhibiting historic monumental wood carvings from both a Native and Non-Native view point.  It will also serve to connect Native carvers and the museum community in the hope that the resulting dialogue will help support the continued development of this traditional art form.  The format of this gathering is aimed at encouraging discussion, so presentations will be relaxed and brief, and an equal amount of time will be scheduled for general discussion of the topics addressed.

Registration will open January 21st, 2014, and a provisional program will be available at that time.

Further information and details about the conference will be posted at www.hibulbculturalcenter.org/Events/Symposium/

Call for papers:

The meeting is heavily focused on inclusive discussions amongst participants; therefore we are seeking short presentations (10 – 15 minutes maximum) that encourage constructive dialog.  While technical papers are welcome, we ask that presenters keep in mind the broad background of the expected attendees.  The event will be recorded and the proceedings published.

Proposals for presentations on the following topics are invited:

  • The history behind the past care of poles, posts, canoes and similar large Native carvings held in conventional museum settings.
  • The care of these objects in Native museums and communities from the Native perspective.
  • What types of large artifact conservation treatments and care work best in Native and non-Native museums?
  • The importance and relevance of these objects for the personal visions of the Native carver.
  • The potential use of traditional methods and materials in the preservation of existing objects in collections.
  • How can conservators, custodians and Native carvers bridge the communication gap and support each other’s work?
  • How can a balance be struck between technical and non-technical methodologies?
  • How can we define a range of “best practices” in Native museum collections regarding treatments, storage, moving and mounting techniques for this material?

Information to be included in your proposal:

·         Presentation proposal should be not more than 250 words.

·         Please include a 100 word summary that will be included on the conference website, should your paper be accepted.

·         Provide your name, occupation/institution and contact information, including e-mail address.

·         Indicate the format of your presentation – PowerPoint, presentation from written notes, etc.

Deadline for submission: February 3rd, 2014.

Please submit proposals to:  J. Claire Dean at info@hibulbculturalcenter.org  (include “PPC paper proposal” in the subject line).

You will be notified by e-mail whether or not your paper has been accepted by February 28th, 2014.

 Return to top

Professional Time Wasting on the Web

Darn Cats!

http://io9.com/this-medieval-manuscript-curses-the-cat-who-peed-on-it-1502884468?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Financial Management at America’s Billion-Dollar Museums

http://engagingplaces.net/2014/01/08/financial-management-at-americas-billion-dollar-museums/

Shift in how some museums are funded

http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/theater-art/2013/12/28/sanctuary-and-change-boston-area-museum-scene/CUJp1ODEMFEGvSLP69MtDO/story.html?s_campaign=sm_tw

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alaska State Museums Bulletin 71

Printable Version

Contents:

The Museums Big Move
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web

 

The Museum’s Big Move

A perspective from Lisa Golisek, Alaska State Museum Protections and Visitors Services Manager (aka Office Move Branch Team Leader)

It’s December 2013 and we are in the midst of the Alaska State Museum’s “big move.” A move that encompasses relocating the Alaska State Museum’s collections, staff, supplies and equipment by May – just six months away. As I write this article about a discrete aspect of this moving experience, I’m able to look out my office window and see part of a new building or what I refer to as the “back third of the new SLAM” facility towering above the museum.

SLAM stands for State Libraries, Archives and Museums. The completion of the back third of SLAM is a critical component to the museum’s big move as it houses the new collection storage vault.  The new vault, with functioning fire, security, and mechanical systems, is to be ready to receive the museum’s collections by February 28, less than 3 months from now. From the close of business at the end of February, we have six weeks to move 32,000 objects that are on exhibit or in storage into the new vault.  Before the close of business at February’s end, all the staff will be moved offsite and the supplies and equipment will be moved into long-term storage.

scaffold

Construction underway of the back third of the State Libraries, Archives and Museums (SLAM) building.

The Alaska State Museum building, as we currently know it, will be torn down to make way for the rest of the SLAM building that is to be completed by the spring of 2016.

old ASM

The Alaska State Museum, built in 1967, as a Centennial Project will be torn down in 2014 to make way for the new State Libraries, Archives and Museum facility.

SLAM

 Architect’s rendering of the new State Libraries, Archives and Museum facility.

For the past year, a few of our employees were instrumental in meeting and deciding to adapt FEMA’s Incident Command System (ICS) to execute our big move. One day last July, I was sent a copy of the move organizational chart produced as a result of these meetings.  The chart had two main move branches – the Collections Move Branch and the Office Move Branch.  The teams under these headings would be responsible for moving everything from the museum — from the file cabinets to the lighthouse lens. My name was in the block titled, “Office Move Branch Team Leader.”  I wasn’t sure who to curse or thank for this role, but the count down to the February closing date was 7 months out, and we needed to get most of the “office branch” moved by then.  True, planning for the office moves had been well underway prior to July, as the director and deputy director had been working for six months finding space within the state library and archives to squeeze in the museum staff desks. However, there was still more to be done under the title of “office move.”

Goals for the “Office Move Branch Team:

  1. Develop and execute a plan for organizing, packing and moving the “low hanging fruit: or those items that are fairly easy to pack up and move out and which no one person claims responsibility for
  2. Schedule staff and office move dates, oversee moves
  3. Organize and pack for long-term storage those items we will need in the future museum but we can do without now
  4. Reduce supply consumable inventory – museum publications, gallery guides, and posters
  5. Create space to pile up property to be sent to the State Surplus for redistribution and sale
  6. Create space in-house to organize and pack
  7. Manage the teams of the office move branch

Admittedly I am one of 95% of the museum’s permanent, fulltime staff involved in a major museum move for the first time. However, we are learning moving lessons every day, and hopefully a few of these lessons will be of benefit to you.

Lesson:  It’s called Low Hanging Fruit because it’s the easiest to pick!

Not everyone in a museum has the skills of a registrar or an archivist, but they all collect. It is amazing the morass of “stuff” an agency can accumulate in 46 years that no one person accepts responsibility for, and how readily staff embrace the idea of someone else organizing it and packing it up.

To make sure we had a complete list of “low hanging fruit”, I visited with staff and informally asked staff three helpful questions:

1) What’s in your area that you are not personally responsible for?

2) What equipment and supplies do you no longer want or need?

3) If someone could assist you, what would you like have them pack for long-term storage?

The third question often unveiled items staff inherited from their predecessors but they had never gone through. Staff showed me stuff that was stuffed in drawers and stashed in corners. The list quickly got lengthy, and repetitive.  It was surprising how much of the same kinds of materials everyone had — photos and slides, multiple copies of exhibit catalogs and museum technical papers, CD’s of images and files, old temporary exhibit photo murals on the walls, and dozens of uncatalogued reference books.  Despite the lengthy list, I also went on a little tour of the building and grounds and compiled a list of everything that I knew wasn’t collections related that we would likely need to keep or figure out what to do with it.  At this point, it was time to put together a team – I needed help.

This project was happening during the busy summer tourist season, and fortunately, the need for additional support was obvious to our Deputy Director who found a way to add 30 hours per week to the budget to add on some non-permanent staff. My section already uses non-permanent employees to cover leave and assist with special events, and I have the good fortune of having a few devoted and semi-retired employees with long tenure. I asked two of them if they would work together 15 hours per week to complete the assignment of dealing with our low hanging fruit and they enthusiastically agreed.

The credit for compiling, organizing and packing the items goes almost entirely these two individuals, and I can’t brag and thank them enough for what they accomplished in the past four months.  Our organizers started with rounding up “like” materials – all the magnetic media, all the reference books, all the exhibit catalogs and publications, all the slides and photographs and assisted in further categorizing them.

Ten Categories of Items from the List of Low Hanging Fruit

  1. Staff reference library
  2. Photos and slides of everything from the museum’s 1987 volleyball team to photos from the millennium gala
  3. Magnetic and digital media –  from commercially produced to museum event coverage,
  4. Museum publications – exhibits catalogs, posters, gallery guides and rack cards
  5. Awards, Plaques and Banners
  6. Newspaper clippings
  7. Memorial plaques and trees
  8. Office wall art – which include large reproductions used in old temporary exhibits as well as work to return to the art bank
  9. Support materials from discontinued programs – the learning kit program and museum graphics
  10. Old equipment and supplies

Once the team had most of a like materials rounded up – then the organizing, inventorying, archiving, culling, packing, and moving could begin in earnest. Going through thousands of slides is a monumental task, but the pace of these employees was good and what didn’t get done then, probably never would.

Although some things might not have receive enough attention, everything was inventoried and boxes were labeled. We developed a simple tracking label for boxes with a label template that prints on standard shipping label stock. The labels are color coded for each museum section:  Museum services is blue, administration is green, collections is purple, etc.  In our case we are moving all of this material twice so the box label lists both the temporary storage location and its final destination in the new SLAM.  We used the room numbers to identify rooms in the new building since all the blueprints are done and room numbers won’t change.

label photo

The best lesson learned on this project was not necessarily how to handle low hanging fruit but who should pick it!

  • Pairing up two people for 15 hours per week got more than twice as much done.
  • Pairing up individuals with compatible but complimentary skills sets was a huge asset.  One had spent a couple years working at the library and understands libraries and archives culture.  The other one was a former museum employee and has institutional memory as well as understands our personalities and culture well. They both have a long history with the community.
  • The individuals not burdened by the responsibilities associated with a full-time position so they could stay focused on the task at hand.
  • The individuals had exceptional spatial reasoning skills – if I had to select people for this process that I didn’t know, I might hand them a Rubik’s cube and watch how easy was for them to solve.

Other lessons learned:

  • Starting with low hanging fruit was a good decision.  It is the easiest thing for staff to let go of so you can get these packed well ahead of time.
  • Removing office wall art and emptying shelves gives the appearance that you are moving and this motivates staff to pack.
  • Rounding up “like” materials allowed us to get rid of redundancy, know how much stock we had, and provide us with an accurate inventory so we could distribute the excess to school, libraries, and other museums.
  • Through the process piles of old equipment and supplies were amassed to go to surplus.
  • In the end, we are rewarded with much needed space

One could say with more fruit idioms, the fruits of our labor on the low hanging fruit….well, bore fruit!

 return to top

Ask ASM

Question:  How does your museum currently prevent bugs, rodents, light and moisture from affecting the collection?

ASM:  The current pest control protocol in effect since at least 1990 at the Alaska State Museum has been the standard Integrated Pest Management System where we use preventive techniques to keep pests out, monitor with sticky traps on a quarterly basis and treat suspected infestations or incoming artifacts that may be at risk with low-temperature treatment in a freezer in our isolation room.  The IPM procedure is described in the following article: http://www.museums.state.ak.us/documents/bulletin_docs/bulletin_29.pdf

Light levels are controlled throughout the exhibits and storage areas.  In exhibits, light levels are measured with a light meter and kept within accepted standards, typically around 5 footcandles for light sensitive materials such as dyes and watercolors, under 15 footcandles for most organics, and 30 footcandles for things that are not light sensitive like metals, ceramics and glass.  In storage areas, the control is more in keeping the lights off whenever people are not immediately working in the collections room.  Light levels need to be high enough in there to monitor condition, research artifacts, and perform collections management tasks, so the level is above 15 footcandles.  But since light damage is cumulative, the brief periods of exposure are the control mechanism.  Of course, the majority of the collections in storage are in cabinets and thus exposed to no light unless the cabinet is opened, even if the lights are on in the storage room.

Moisture is carefully tracked in the museum, since we live in a wet climate and the building has inherent flaws.  We have electronic water monitors on the floor in several locations, and we actively monitor the ceiling and the floor for any signs of leaks.  Again, cabinets provide significant protection.  Our IPM system also provides data on moisture, as there are certain bugs that need high humidity levels to thrive.  If we see those kinds of insects (sow bugs, springtails…typically non-heritage eaters) in traps, we suspect elevated moisture and investigate the issue.  We have temperature and relative humidity data going back to 1983.  The museum is typically around 68 degrees F and 45% RH.

 return to top

Shaking the Money Tree

IMLS

Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries. The application deadline is February 3, 2014.

Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries are small grants that encourage libraries and archives to prototype and evaluate innovations that result in new tools, products, services, or organizational practices. They enable grantees to undertake activities that involve risk and require them to share project results–whether they succeed or fail–to provide valuable information to the library field and help improve the ways libraries serve their communities.

The funding range is from $10,000 to $25,000, and there are no matching requirements. Projects must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2014. Click here for program guidelines and more information about the funding opportunity.

AAM

The Alliance is accepting proposals for the 2014 cycle of the Museums Connect: Building Global Communities program. An initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in conjunction with the Alliance, Museums Connect offers up to $100,000 for museums throughout the U.S. and the world to partner with each other and their local communities around issues of mutual interest, creating opportunities for greater dialogue and cultural understanding. In the first phase of the proposal process, museums submit a basic profile form and search for a partner. Many profiles of U.S. and non-U.S. museums have already been posted online for potential partners to review. After partnering, museums submit a statement of intent to propose, accepted on a rolling basis through Jan. 20.

Heritage Preservation

CAP Applications Available

Heritage Preservation is pleased to announce that the 2014 Conservation Assessment Program application are available at: http://www.heritagepreservation.org/CAP/index.html. Paper applications are available upon request.

Applications must be postmarked, submitted online, or emailed no later than 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 14th. We encourage museums to apply as soon after the application release as possible, as we always receive more applicants than we are able to fund.

Questions may be directed to CAP staff at cap@heritagepreservation.org, or 202-233-0800.

 return to top

Spotlight on Grant in Aid

The Alutiiq Museum

The “Cultures Through Time” project has been successfully completed. Through the project, two separate but complimentary exhibits were created. First, five images were developed showcasing the five major periods of the Alutiiq culture. The design of the images was inspired by the children’s I Spy books, and feature many items from the Alutiiq Museum’s collections from each period.

Russian FINAL.pdf

The images were then printed onto ¼ inch thick, 30 by 30 inch iZone panels and mounted in the children’s Wamwik area of the museum’s gallery. They are arranged in a way that is attractive and engaging, and highlights both the differences and similarities over time. For example, the shape of toggling harpoon points remained virtually identical over thousands of years and between periods, but the materials changed, from bone through to metal. By exploring the images, children can learn about change over time. The panels have proven to be highly popular and a wonderful resource during tours. Children often yell out when they spot an object, “I see it!” which has resonated deeply, since the exhibit is titled Tangraqa – I See It.

???????????????????????????????

Beside the Wamwik is an exhibit case that serves as our introduction to Alutiiq culture through time. This exhibit was installed in 2001, and was never a very well laid out design. The case is large, but the space was not well used and was difficult to understand for those who did not have a basic understanding of Alutiiq culture or archaeology. This project allowed for a complete redesign, including a change from focusing on the scholarly names of the cultural time periods to a more widely understood use of terms (Ocean Bay became Early Hunters, Koniag became Chiefs and Slaves). The title of the exhibit also changes from Culture through Time, which did not emphasis the continuity of culture to Cuumillallret – Our Ancestors. The case is vibrant and shares at least five times as many artifacts as the previous version, utilizing the space much more efficiently and attractively. Importantly, the two exhibits are complimentary in that they share many of the same artifacts. Pieces that are spotted in the Tangraqa images are displayed in the Cuumillallret case, pulling children’s attention into the gallery in a way that was not possible before. Additionally, the abundance of artifacts seen in the images and the case showcase the museum’s collections while educating our visitors in a more intuitive way about the Alutiiq culture through time.

 return to top

Alaska Museums in the News

ASM IMLS Professional Development Project: Putting the State in Alaska State Museum

http://www.alaskapublic.org/2013/12/10/putting-the-state-in-alaska-state-museum/

http://www.ktoo.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/29Museum.mp3

Cordova Museum Purchases work by Milo Burcham

http://www.thecordovatimes.com/article/1349cordova-museum-purchases-work-by-milo-burcham

 

Museum of the North gets new fish specimens

http://fm.kuac.org/post/thousands-new-fish-specimens-double-museums-collection

  return to top

Professional Development/Training Opportunities

AASLH

Registration Open for January 2014 Online Training

The Basics of Archives
The Basics of Archives online course is designed to give organizations and individuals who are responsible for the care of historical records an introduction to the core aspects of managing and protecting historical records collections, using appropriate principles and best practices. Proceed at your own pace through this online workshop covering the basics of archive management and practices. The course is web-based and takes 15-20 hours to complete.

  • January 6, 2014 – February 7, 2014
  • $85 members / $160 nonmembers

Developing a Membership Marketing Plan
Does your organization’s membership program need a jumpstart? Do you want to grow new members? Join a lively discussion about how to develop a membership marketing plan for your organization and increase revenue. When the webinar is complete, you will take home not only a model on how to develop, but also real ideas and suggestions to put in that plan.

  • January 15, 2014 @ 3:00 pm – 4:15 pm
  • $40 members/$115 nonmembers


 return to top

Professional Time Wasting on the Web

700,000 Year Old Horse discovered in the Yukon

http://westerndigs.org/700000-year-old-horse-found-in-yukon-permafrost-yields-oldest-dna-ever-decoded/

Alaskan Artist Larry Beck

http://si-siris.blogspot.com/2013/04/larry-beck-native-american-art.html

Please touch tour for the blind

http://www.adn.com/2013/12/02/3209554/pa-museum-tells-blind-visitors.html

AASLH unveils new website “Home for History”

http://www.aaslh.org/

 return to top

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alaska State Museums Bulletin 70

Printable Version

Contents:

Snapshot of Shipwreck Artifact Treatments
Ask ASM
Shaking the Money Tree
Spotlight on Grant in Aid
Alaska Museums in the News
Professional Development/Training Opportunities
Professional Time Wasting on the Web

 

Snapshot of Shipwreck Artifact Treatments

By Ellen Carrlee, Conservator, Alaska State Museums 

1 sash pin

1.  Detail of a glass and copper alloy sash pin

You may have heard the Alaska State Museum is in the middle of designing exhibits for the new SLAM building…including some large new items such as a Baldwin electric locomotive and a Bristol Bay Double Ender.  We are also busily packing the current exhibits and collections to move during a six-week window in spring of 2014 before our current building is torn down.  The conservation section is now in temporary quarters at the State Office Building.  You might not have heard that last fall the museum received over 1,000 wet artifacts from the salvage of a gold rush-era shipwreck.  In addition to preparing for the museum’s upcoming move, the conservation lab has been busy treating nearly 30 large totes of wet shipwreck material from the SS Islander.  A Google search will yield the drama behind the recovery of gold that has been an ongoing saga since the wreck of the luxury steamship near Juneau on its way south from Skagway in 1901.  Most of the publications about the Islander explore the exciting tale of gold recovery.  However, it now seems the true treasure of the wreck may be in the hundreds of artifacts that illustrate the lives and times of the people who participated in the settlement and colonization of this part of the world.  Salvage has yielded a wide variety of artifacts in phenomenal condition.  The materials range from leather work boots with their laces in place and iron tools in their original oiled canvas wrap to douche bags, an unopened bottle of ketchup and a child’s rubber doll.

We are now in the final phases of conservation triage for these artifacts, with considerable help from grad student Madeleine Neiman of the UCLA/Getty conservation training program, pre-program conservation volunteer Lisa Imamura, and museum technician Bianca Carpeneti.  Together we are tackling the first aid and drying of these items to allow for curatorial decisions to be made about the collection in its entirety at a later date.  Here is a snapshot of the kinds of materials present and what our treatment decisions have been.

2 doll

2.  Rubber or gutta percha jointed doll

RUBBER AND PLASTIC

There have been many items in the wreck made of rubber or plastic, including this terrific jointed rubber doll.  The conservation of this doll has been described here http://ellencarrlee.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/shipwreck-doll/

Other rubber items include boots, shoes, gaskets, hot water bottles, and personal hygiene items.  The treatment for these items has generally been to desalinate (remove salts) and block them (hold in place until dry).  Artifacts from seawater environments contain salts that should be removed to promote the long-term preservation of the object.  In the case of rubbers and plastics (which are poorly researched in the conservation literature) it seems that repeated soakings in fresh water until the conductivity reading is close to tap water is adequate.  Care must be taken not to scratch the surfaces while cleaning.

??????????

3.  Full glass bottle of ketchup

GLASS

Wine bottles, whiskey bottles, soda bottles, perfume bottles, inkwells, porthole glass, and various kinds of decorative glass have been recovered.  Salts are not a large problem with glass that is in good condition.  We have seen several bottles with their original contents, including the ketchup bottle pictured here.  We removed the ketchup, which is currently in the conservation lab fridge.  It looked, smelled and poured exactly as you would expect from fresh ketchup.  Most likely, it is a brand called Blue Label.

4 thundermug

4.   Holding the joins together while they set: ceramic thunder mug

CERAMICS

Conservation intern Madeleine Neiman explains our worry with ceramics: “Ceramics are among the most common and abundant artifact removed from historic wrecks including the Islander.  Here our primary concern is salts.  Salts may be broken down into categories: insoluble and soluble.  Insoluble salts are typically found as hard surface accretions or stubborn staining.  While they may be aesthetically undesirable, their presence is largely innocuous; they will not compromise the long-term integrity of the object.  Soluble salts, conversely, may cause significant damage.  At the time of excavation, porous ceramic artifacts recovered from marine sites are impregnated with sea water which may include a range of soluble salts (including various phosphates, nitrates and chlorides).  When allowed dry untreated, these salts crystalize within the pores of the ceramic exerting tremendous pressure on surrounding material causing it to fracture and crumble.  As soluble salt are hygroscopic, ongoing fluctuations in ambient humidity will cause continuing cycles of deliquescence (dissolution) and efflorescence (crystallization) compounding the initial damage.  To combat this problem, soluble salts are removed through repeated rinsing prior to drying.  Ceramic objects are placed into large tubs filled with water which are regularly changed. Conservators monitor progress with a conductivity meter, a device which measures the concentration of ions present within the water.  When conductivity remains low and constant over the course of successive water changes, the object can be safely removed from the water and allowed to dry.”

Among the many steamship dishes, the fragments of a “thunder mug” (chamber pot) were found.  The vessel was reconstructed by Lisa Imamura.  After soaking to desalinate, the break edges were consolidated with dilute Acryloid B-72, then joined with a thicker B-72 solution, held in place overnight with blue painter’s tape to keep all the joins properly aligned during drying.

5 Cu alloys drying 1Oct2013

5.   Copper alloys including luggage tags and some of the letters that spell “ISLANDER”

6 Bianca consolidating S18Sept2013

6.    Museum technician Bianca Carpeneti consolidating the putty fill behind a copper alloy letter “S”

COPPER ALLOYS

Brass, bronze, German silver and other alloys of copper account for several hundred items salvaged from the wreck.  These items include jewelry, silverware, lamp parts, tools, hinges and architectural elements.  Salt from the marine environment can bond into the structure of copper and its alloys, making it difficult to remove by passive soaking alone.  Chloride salts in particular can cause damaging cyclic corrosion known as bronze disease.  Standard treatments for forcing chloride salts out of copper alloys include electrolysis and soaking in sodium sesquicarbonate.  Both of these measures were recently used on different portholes from the Torrent in the Alaska State Museum collection.  Testing on the copper alloys from the Islander wreck indicate that extensive soaking seems to drive out enough chlorides to avoid chemical or electrolytic treatment, suggesting that the chemistry and context of the wreck site may have fortuitously resulted in low chloride contamination.  We cleaned and soaked several grommets and small screws, dried them, and then subjected them to a high humidity chamber for several weeks to try to force bronze disease.  Our “test victims” still look fine.

7 iron passivation

7.   Iron tools and pulleys soaking in sodium carbonate passivation solution

8 lisa iron

8.     Pre-program conservation volunteer Lisa Imamura preparing iron for treatment

IRON

Iron has an even greater problem with chlorides and other salts, and there is no sure way to prevent the horrible, disfiguring rusty flaking of iron that exhibits active corrosion.  Unfortunately, we have a huge number of iron items from the wreck, including tools, chains, and pulleys.  When we first saw these, they were blackish on the surface, but soon showed bright orange powdery “flash rusting” in their soaking tubs.  To buy ourselves time, we filled the tubs with an alkaline passivation solution of 5% sodium carbonate.  The literature suggests 5% sodium hydroxide might work better, but we were unwilling to make large baths of caustic solutions without a properly equipped conservation lab.  To our delight, the iron all continues to look good in these solutions.  Usually, this is a stopgap measure until the “real” treatment can happen, but we dared hope: if the chloride contamination is low enough that we didn’t need to take chemical measures with our copper, could we do the same with the iron?  Might successive baths of alkaline passivation soak out enough of the chlorides?  Again we tested some victims…a few small bolts that had been soaked for several months in changes of the passivation solution.  We also tried a supplementary tannic acid treatment.  Interestingly, the iron that got tannic acid treatment burst out in pustules of active and aggressive corrosion, while the soaked samples fared better than the untreated control samples.  Several dozen iron tools with wooden handles were among the items treated.  We are also evaluating the possibility of low RH storage, perhaps in sealed tubs with silica gel to keep the humidity near the iron as low as possible.

9 metal buttons

9.     Two wet lead sash weights

LEAD

Some metals do not hold onto salts in the way that copper and iron can.  Lead artifacts, for example, tend to dry well without extensive desalination, and soaking in freshwater can actually promote some kinds of corrosion.  The lead buttons pictured here are most likely “sash weights” or “hem weights” sewn into the bottom of a garment or curtain to insure proper draping.

10 sharpening stone

10.  Sharpening stone

STONE

A few stone items have been recovered, mainly architectural elements like countertop fragments, but also sharpening stones such as the one pictured above.

11 plane T Rogers

11.  Part of a woodworker’s plane stamped with the name “T. Rogers”

WOOD

Waterlogged wood is often highly degraded, and air drying without an impregnant often results in severe cracking, warping, and distortion of the wood.  The details of this process are described here:

http://ellencarrlee.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/waterlogged-wood-deterioration/

The standard treatment for waterlogged wood is impregnation with polyethylene glycol, a water soluble wax whose use is described here:

http://ellencarrlee.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/what-do-we-know-about-peg/

However, with a few exceptions, the wood from this shipwreck was fairly robust.  Several items had extensive boreholes from sea worms, but the majority of the items were in good condition and were successfully air dried after desalination.  One of the exciting discoveries was the stamp “T. Rogers” on many of the tool handles.  Sadly, he died in the wreck.  Information about him is in a Canadian archive, and connecting his story to these items is an example of the kind of work that is yet to happen on this collection, as Rogers is not the only individual whose name is written on artifacts.

12 shoes30Aug2013 DT

12.  Leather shoes during treatment.  One of them is being stuffed out with rolled cotton towels and wrapped with gauze to prevent distortion while drying.

LEATHER

Most of the leather artifacts from the wreck are shoes and belts, but there have also been two sail maker’s palms (think of a thimble for the hand), the partial covering from a chest, and a wallet.  Some items include metal elements such as buckles and nails.  Many luggage tags made of copper alloy have leather straps.  Conservation intern Madeleine Neiman describes the major concerns with waterlogged leather:

“Animal hide is comprised a network of collagen fibres; chains of amino acids which are spiraled together to form fibrils that, in turn, bundle together to form fibres.  During the tanning process, crosslinkages are created in the fibre structure allowing the hide to retain flexibility as well as resistance to deterioration.  In a waterlogged environment the tanned hide (aka leather) swells and fibres disperse.  Additionally, a variety of chemical reactions occur breaking both intra- and inter-molecular bonds and leading to depolymerization of the protein.  Tanning agents and lubricants applied to the surface of the leather during its period of use to make it supple and flexible are leached out.  When allowed to dry “naturally,” waterlogged leather is overwhelmed by contractile forces; the surface tension of evaporating water pulls together the decayed collagen fibres.  This process causes the leather shrink, stiffen, crack and embrittle. For this reason, objects are often impregnated PEG.  The PRG acts as a bulking agent during drying as well as serving as a lubricant and humectant afterward; it aids the object in maintaining in its original form and lends greater strength and flexibility allowing the leather to withstand gentle handling.”

Iron contamination of leather can also contribute to the breakdown of the leather, as can excessive contamination with salt.  However, just soaking and drying leather can lead to excessive shrinkage and darkening.  Soaking in chemicals meant to drive out the iron can also potentially drive out the tanning agents of the leather.  PEG treatment of leather is sometimes done, but PEG is known to corrode metals.  While we have tested several different cleaning methods and ways to preserve the leather, none are fully satisfactory.  Most of the results have been adequate to save the leather in exhibit-worthy condition, but only a few leather items meet all our wish-list criteria: natural colored, unshrunken, no cracks or tears, supple and flexible, robust, etc.  Most are a bit dark and rather stiff.  Still, it is wonderful to have these items survive at all.

13 clothing drying

13.  Wool clothing set out for drying the month before the conservation lab moved out of the museum

TEXTILES/PAPER

While the leather has been a wild card, the textiles have been wonderful.  Most of them seem to be wool, and the stitching had disintegrated in many cases, leaving our jackets, pants, vests and linings in multiple pieces.  Or could there have been a tailor shop?  So much more to investigate…are these garments all the same size?  Why do we see thread in some places but not others?  What could our collection of brushes from the wreck tell us?  Some of the hairbrushes and paintbrushes have bristles, while others just have holes.  If it were simply a matter of proteinaceous wool versus vegetative cotton, we would perhaps not expect to see the wood and basketry items in such good shape.  And did I mention we also have some paper scraps?  The textiles are a glorious group, and aside from the dressy coats and vests and even a tuxedo, we also have socks, knitted boot liners, gloves, and what seem to be remnants of upholstery.

14 Madeleine

14.  UCLA/ Getty graduate conservation student Madeleine Neiman painstakingly picks fragments of a paper label out of the bath containing rolls of painted wall coverings

15wallpaper30Aug2013DT6

15.  Detail of yellow paint and floral design on cloth wall coverings

COMPLEX COMPOSITES

The most challenging artifacts have been those that are made of many very different materials.  For example, a box full of tools and garments adhered together by a very tough iron-rich black petroleum distillate of some kind.  Or the tool roll of greased drill bits, each in its own pocket of an incredibly oily canvas cloth.  The cloth is brittle, but the iron cannot stay inside the roll without treatment or it would rust away before anyone could study it.  Most challenging of all, however, are the two rolls of what the 1902 Sears catalog tells me are probably cloth wall coverings.  Dozens of feet of floral printed cloth, and the paint comes off easily on a cotton swab.  How to preserve these?  I guess you will have to stay tuned to hear how that story ends.

As we work through the final tubs of iron, our triage will conclude.  As part of the decision-making process, conservation grad student Madeleine Neiman undertook a grueling literature search and wrote summaries of the standard treatment option for maritime copper, iron, and leather.  Conservation of these materials is commonly undertaken by non-conservation professionals and the results are published only sporadically.  The treatment results of our efforts and our decision logic ought to be fully documented and published to contribute to that global body of knowledge.  But first, we have a museum to move and new exhibits to design and install!  One day, I hope the Alaska State Museum will be able to coordinate an exhibition of SS Islander artifacts to bear witness to the lives of the miners, sailors, entertainers, children, carpenters, and others within the context of daily life during the gold rush in this part of the world.

return to top

Ask ASM

This question came from someone working at an archive who was putting some material on public display for the first time.

Question:  We are getting ready to put together an exhibit case and in doing so, we have a couple questions. First, there is an old press book, from which there are a couple letters that we’re having copied for the case that we would like to display. It has a hard-bound cover, which protects the pages. Would there be any harm in displaying it in the case (like an artifact)…to represent authenticity, if nothing else? I am open to playing with the lights (or at least the light exposure) so that they’re not on all the time over the case.

ASM:  What is the cover made of?

Questioner:  Like a finely woven textile-ish fabric that’s covering a hard book board, both front and back. It has a title that’s hand-written in black ink on the cover, along with a small, less significant label with writing on it in pencil. Overall it’s in good shape; not visually falling apart.

ASM:  Is the textile colored?  Fading of the dye is the big risk, but the textile will face some deterioration at the light levels present.  Not outlandish considering it’s a  the book, and the deterioration might be in an OK level for what it is, although if the cover is colored, red or blue in particular, you are likely to end the exhibit with one side of the cover that is lighter than the other….

Questioner:  No, it’s not colored.  It’s a drabby, neutral color.

ASM:  Probably an acceptable level of risk then…

Questioner:  Meaning….it’s OK or not OK to put in the case?

ASM:  Meaning, you will get some level of deterioration to the textile fibers, which will be weakened to some small degree by that light exposure, but not likely much deterioration to the paper or to the color of the cover.  In the museum field, the light level you have for that exhibit case would probably be too high for the museum to put it in long-term if it were an object in our collection, but as an archive you may have a different set of criteria for preservation/exhibition.  There is also the possibility that in the museum, the curator and other staff might say that the importance of exhibiting a particular book would outweigh the potential for minor increased deterioration. I can tell you want will happen, and what the museum would likely do, but whether to put it in or not isn’t my final decision.  Exhibiting original collections materials is always a balance of pros and cons.

return to top

Shaking the Money Tree

AAM

Deadline: December 1

Website:  http://www.aam-us.org/resources/assessment-programs/MAP

The Museum Assessment Program (MAP) helps small and mid-sized museums strengthen operations, plan for the future and meet national standards through self-study and a site visit from a peer reviewer. IMLS-funded MAP grants are non-competitive and provide $4,000 of consultative resources and services to participating museums.

MAP provides guidance and growth in the following areas:

  • prioritization of goals
  • focus on mission and planning
  • communications between staff, board and other constituents
  • credibility with potential funders and donors
  • The program offers four assessments:
  • Organizational
  • Collections Stewardship
  • Community Engagement
  • Leadership (full cost only)

Each assessment can be completed in less than a year. Costs to participate range from free to $750. Please contact MAP staff to be added to a notification list for when the next application is available.

MAP is supported through a cooperative agreement between the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alliance.

IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is accepting applications in each of its museum grant programs. The application deadline for each of these programs is December 2, 2013.

For more information about these funding opportunities, including program guidelines, contacts, and webinar access information, click on one of the following links.

IMLS staff members are available by phone and email to discuss general issues relating to these funding programs.   http://www.imls.gov/

NEH

Sustaining Cultural Heritage

The next grant deadline is December 12, 2013.

The National Endowment for the Humanities invites applications from nonprofit museums, libraries, archives, and educational institutions in the United States to its Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program. This grant program encourages cultural institutions to plan and implement preventive conservation projects that pragmatically balance preservation goals, cost, and environmental impact. Projects should be designed to be as cost effective, energy efficient, and environmentally sensitive as possible, and they should aim to mitigate the greatest risks to collections rather than to meet prescriptive targets.

Planning grants of up to $40,000 (with an option to request an additional $10,000 to implement a recommendation made by the planning team) are available to bring together interdisciplinary teams that will work collaboratively to identify sustainable preventive conservation strategies.  Planning teams should consider the nature of the materials in a collection; the performance of the building, its envelope, and its systems in moderating internal environmental conditions; the capabilities of the institution; the nature of the local climate and the effects of climate change; the cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency of various approaches to preventive conservation; and the project’s impact on the environment.

Implementation grants of up to $350,000 are available to manage interior relative humidity and temperature by passive methods; install heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems; install storage systems and rehouse collections; improve security and the protection of collections from fire, flood, and other disasters; and upgrade lighting systems and controls to achieve levels suitable for collections that are energy efficient.

With Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grants, cultural institutions are

* reevaluating specifications for relative humidity and temperature and establishing realistic and achievable targets;

* identifying passive (non-mechanical) strategies for creating more stable collection environments;

* investigating how the environmental management features of historic buildings might be used, especially those related to ventilation and control of solar gain;

* studying the natural variations in a building to identify spaces best suited for collections;

* employing the concept of multiple layers of buffering to create more stable conditions for collections;

* reorganizing collections by material type, locating more vulnerable collections in spaces that are more naturally stable;

* considering how docent-led tours might be re-routed to minimize the introduction of unconditioned air;

* repairing building envelopes and improving site drainage to prevent moisture infiltration;

* evaluating mechanical systems and optimizing their performance;

* exploring control strategies and programming of building automation systems for operating HVAC systems more efficiently;

* adopting, when possible, simple and easy to maintain mechanical systems and controls;

* designing mechanical systems that are “right sized;”

* implementing managed setbacks and shutdowns of climate control systems in well insulated spaces; and,

* installing energy efficient lighting and employing occupancy sensors for control in storage spaces and galleries.

Guidelines, FAQs, and sample narratives from successful applications are on the NEH Web site: www.neh.gov/grants/preservation/sustaining-cultural-heritage-collections.

A list of previous awards can be found here:  www.neh.gov/files/divisions/preservation/sustaining_cultural_heritage_collections_awards.pdf

Program officers are available to discuss project ideas and read draft proposals. Please contact the division for more information by emailing preservation@neh.gov or calling 202-606-8570.

return to top

Spotlight on Grant in Aid

Alpine Historical Society

The project of placing 1918-1967 outdoor coal mining equipment on cement foundations at the Alpine Historical Park in Sutton, AK began with a FY 2010 Alaska State Museum mini grant.  David Harvey, objects conservator, visited the park in August 2009 and assessed 19 pieces of equipment that were moved to the park from nearby closed coal mines in1989.  Most of them were placed on the ground or on railroad ties and were slowly sinking into the ground and growing lichen on them.  Mr. Harvey gave the Alpine Historical Society (AHS) a thorough report on each piece of equipment’s condition and how we might prevent further deterioration.  In 2010 we removed three large cottonwood trees that were contributing to the moisture and lichen growth around the equipment.  The remaining large stumps and roots were removed in 2012.  A FY 2011 Alaska State Museums mini grant was awarded to place three pieces of coal mining equipment on foundations with pedestals with the majority of mining equipment collection.  A FY 2012 Alaska State museums mini grant was awarded to place two large Boilers on platforms near the Coal Washery separate from the general equipment display. Bird nests, lichen and asbestos were previously removed from the Boilers.  The remaining five large pieces of coal mining equipment were placed on cement foundations and pedestals when AHS was awarded a large FY 2013 Alaska State Museums grant.

The whole exhibit looks terrific.  We have had a number of Park visitors comment how well the equipment is displayed, and it is an important attraction to the community from the newly established Sutton Community Library/Resource Center which shares the Park’s parking lot.


return to top

Alaska Museums in the News

Campaign kicks off to honor Alaska Native actor Ray Mala

http://www.newsminer.com/news/alaska_news/campaign-kicks-off-to-honor-alaska-native-actor-ray-mala/article_e7728a9a-4a42-11e3-8f79-0019bb30f31a.html

return to top

Professional Development/Training Opportunities

Free webinars from the California Preservation Program and Infopeople!

This series of four webinars will provide participants with an overview of the preservation standards for the many aspects of collections care, will give benchmarks for measuring and improving preservation within an organization, and give guidelines for establishing a preservation program.

Webinar 1:  Preservation Best Practices: Fundamentals and Facilities

Presenter:  Laura Hortz Stanton

Date:  Thursday, November 21st, 2013 

Start Time:         11 am AKST

The first in this series will cover basic preservation and collections care concepts and will give participants an introduction to establishing a preservation program within their institution. In addition, this session will discuss the role that facilities, security, and housekeeping have in the long-term preservation of collections.

Intended Audience: This webinar will be of interest to librarians, archivists, collections managers, curators, and other staff members involved in collections care who must manage a variety of tasks, including implementation of collections management plans and policies, management of environmental controls and storage conditions, and provision for safe use and exhibition of collections.

Other Webinars in the Series:

Webinar 2:  The Role of Environment in Collections Care: Temperature & RH, Lighting, and Pest Management, Thursday, December 5, 2013, 11 am AKST

Webinar 3:  Collections Care: Handling, Access, Storage, and Exhibition, Thursday, December 12, 2013 11 am AKST

Webinar 4: Planning and Prioritizing: Tools for Success, Thursday, December 19, 2013 11 am AKST

This series is sponsored by the California Preservation Program, a project of the California State Library, supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. For more information and to participate in the webinars, click on the links above.

Webinars are free of charge, you can pre-register by clicking on the Join Webinar button now or go directly to the webinar by clicking on Join Webinar within 30 minutes of the start of the event. If you pre-registered you will receive an email with login link and a reminder email the day before the event. If you did not preregister and you can register in the 30 minutes prior to the event and directly enter.

If you are unable to attend the live event, you can access the archived version the day following the webinar.  Check our archive listing at:  http://infopeople.org/training/view/webinar/archived

C2C Webinar

Conservation Assessment Program

December 10, 2013, 10:00 am – 11:00 am AKST

Join us for an informative webinar about the Conservation Assessment Program application and participation! CAP helps small to mid-sized museums secure a general assessment of their collections and historic structures. A CAP assessment is a great first step in prioritizing your museum’s collections care needs, and a wonderful building block to go on to secure more targeted funding. The CAP staff will cover the basics of eligibility requirements, the application, and CAP participation. Check out the sample CAP application (http://heritagepreservation.org/CAP/docs/SampleApp2013.pdf) and bring your questions!

To join go to http://www.connectingtocollections.org/meeting/

return to top

Professional Time Wasting on the Web

At Historic Homes, Unearthing a Deeper View of Slavery

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/arts/artsspecial/at-historic-homes-unearthing-a-deeper-view-of-slavery.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

Charles Edenshaw Exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery

http://projects.vanartgallery.bc.ca/edenshaw/

History Matters, Students Matter.  Public Engagement Matters

http://vimeo.com/76743251

Cool website on learning through objects

http://www.objectlessons.org/

Refuse to Fold

http://engagingplaces.net/2013/11/14/video-refuse-to-fold-heritage-tourism-in-the-mississippi-delta/

Off with their Heads?  Matchbooks in Archives

http://siarchives.si.edu/blog/their-heads-matchbooks-archives

The Greatest Wild West Poster Ever Told

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9nFpsqSMpU&feature=em-share_video_user

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment