Medium 9781442267558

Collections Vol 1 N4

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"Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals" is a multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of handling, preserving, researching, and organizing collections. Curators, archivists, collections managers, preparators, registrars, educators, students, and others contribute.

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6 Articles

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Editor‘s Foreword

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This last issue of the first volume of Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals contains four articles, one opinion piece, a book review, and two reviews of digitizing projects. The opinion article by Nancy E. Villa Bryk, one of our editorial board members, discusses educational programs at The Henry Ford that use original objects.

S. J. Redman discusses the history of the development of Classical Archaeology collections in American museums using the experience of the Science Museum of Minnesota as an example. He believes that studying such examples allows insights into how museum culture in America has formed.

Because staff members in document collecting and records-oriented repositories regularly find themselves managing items that do not neatly fit into file folders and document boxes, Michele Christian conducted a survey of 10 archives to gather information on their practices and needs in dealing with three-dimensional objects. Based on the results of this survey and its own practices, the University Archives, Iowa State University Library, has instituted methods to manage its ever-growing artifact collection. Issues covered include appraising artifacts, preserving the objects through re-housing in appropriate archival storage, developing techniques for description as well as a database, and providing access to the artifacts.

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Opinion

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Nancy E. Villa Bryk

Curator of Domestic Life and Interim Director of Historical Research and Education, The Henry Ford, 20900 Oakwood Blvd., P.O. Box 1970, Dearborn, MI 48121-1970 (email: NancyB@thehenryford.org).

This story of our institution’s use of artifacts for a particular educational purpose is surely not unique or surprising, I’m guessing. I tell it here because this story does surprise some colleagues who find it difficult to believe that curators can allow high school students to handle fairly fragile artifacts without curators being in the room. Some are taken aback that we offer educational experiences that do not always substitute copies, digital, or other reproductions for real artifacts that students can use. Access to “the real thing” is part of the excitement of learning—as we know, it can be a touchstone for a student to a distant past to which they really do not feel a connection. I love “the real things”-why shouldn’t students have the opportunity to enjoy them too?

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“What Self-Respecting Museum Is Without One?”: The Story of Collecting the Old World at the Science Museum of Minnesota 1914–1988

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S. J. Redman

Student, Departments of Anthropology and History, University of Minnesota, Morris, Morris, MN 56267 (e-mail: redm0054@morris.umn.edu).

AbstractMany Americans have learned some, if not all, of what they know about ancient world cultures through visiting museums. The museums that Americans visit, much like those of the remainder of the Western world, seem to almost always possess objects reflecting the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Many American museums, however, unlike their European counterparts, were not founded with the intention of focusing on what could be termed Old World or Classical Archaeology. Why then, if American museums did not originally intend to collect these objects, do American institutions hold comparatively large collections from these areas? In order to better understand this phenomenon, I chose to study the collections of three museums in the midwestern United States. Possibly the most instructive institution that I studied was the Science Museum of Minnesota.

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A Curatorial Challenge: Managing Artifacts in Academic Archives

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Michele Christian

University Records Analyst, University Archives, Parks Library, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011 (michelec@iastate.edu).

AbstractArtifacts, or three-dimensional objects, are often found in archives collections. Whether by design or circumstance, document collecting and records oriented repositories regularly find themselves managing items that do not neatly fit into file folders and document boxes. Archivists face the challenge of discovering ways to adequately describe and care for these objects. By looking into the practices of museum professionals, archivists can develop strategies for managing artifacts in their care. This article conveys the methods instituted by the University Archives, Iowa State University Library, to manage its ever-growing artifact collection. The strategies devised include appraising artifacts for inclusion in the main collection, preserving the objects through re-housing in appropriate archival storage, developing techniques for description as well as a database to collect and manage the information, and providing access to the artifacts.

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Collecting Extremes: A History of the Wilcox Collection

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Emily Hughes Dominick

Archives Contractor, National Archives and Records Administration, 2312 East Bannister Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64131 (email: em-ily_dominick@yahoo.com).

AbstractThis paper discusses the history of the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements, an archival collection housed at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Through this article, the interesting history of the collection is revealed by way of a general description of the holdings in the collection, including an explanation of how the collection has been cataloged, housed, and cared for; a biographical sketch of the collector and information on his political involvements and contributions; and finally a discussion of why this collection will continue to be important to scholarship for many years to come—this section includes an overview of how the collection has been used over its life.

“Freedom of thought and freedom of speech in our great institutions are absolutely necessary for the preservation of our country. The moment either is restricted, liberty begins to wither and die. . . .”

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A Survey of World War II-Era Provenance Research in American Art Museums

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Meagan Miller1 and Edward M. Luby2

1 Graduate Intern, Registrar’s Office, The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1000, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1687 (e-mail: mmiller@getty.edu). 2Assistant Professor, Museum Studies Program, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 (e-mail: emluby@sfsu.edu).

AbstractThe results of a national survey of American art museums concerning the implementation of World War II-era provenance research are presented. After outlining the reasons why this research is important to the museum community, background information on the issue of World War II-era looted art is reviewed. The survey process and the twelve questions that were asked in the anonymous survey are then outlined. The results of the survey are then presented and the implications of this research are discussed. Specifically, 80% of responding museums reported that one or two people were conducting provenance research, and 55% did not yet have policy in place. Eighty-seven percent of museums were not receiving outside funding, and more than 75% indicated that they were encountering difficulties. Three central challenges are identified—time, funding, and training. Despite these challenges, results indicate that the museum community considers World War II-era provenance research an important issue.

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