Medium 9781442267718

Collections Vol 5 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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A Letter from the Editor

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One of the premier venues for collections professionals to gather, the American Association of Museum’s Annual Meeting will be held in Los Angeles in May 2010. This year’s theme “Where Ideas Live!” sounds more like a tagline for an exciting avatar-centered game rather than a conference call. I can’t say that I blame the AAM for this creative branding. As readers of this journal are well aware, museums and archives are living entities rather than static, monolithic institutions. Faced with layoffs, reassignments, and other cost-cutting measures, collecting institutions feel the burden of pressure to contend with budget-saving measures including staff freezes, curtailed print and media funds, and reductions in programming, as well as acquisitions. Economics aside, cultural and political issues also threaten collections.

A call to action is in order. As museum and archives professionals, we must maintain our standards and move beyond essential preservation and access schemes to lunge forward, to incorporate, and even compensate for, new interventions. Given that collections are places where ideas live (rather than decay, deteriorate, or die), how do we engage this malleable nature? To what extent is it possible to serve as good stewards of our collections?

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Inside Out: A Conservator’s Investigation of Museums, Visible Storage, and the Interpretation of Conservation

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Dee A. Stubbs-Lee

Conservator, The New Brunswick Museum, 277 Douglas Avenue, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, E2K1E5 phone: 506-643-2341; e-mail: Dee.Stubbs-Lee@nbm-mnb.ca

Abstract An adaptation of the author’s MA dissertation for Northumbria University, this paper outlines concepts of exhibit, storage, and visible storage, and discusses conflicting museum mandates of providing access versus ensuring preservation. The experiences of museums in Canada, USA, England, and Scotland which use visible storage and other means of enabling visitor access “behind-the-scenes” are surveyed and compared. Information is gathered from seven institutions, by means of a survey questionnaire, interviews, site visits and personal communication. The survey questionnaire probes four key areas: the institutional visible storage history, staff analysis of their experience, any methods of interpretation of conservation functions used, and recommendations for improved design. This data is discussed and supplemented with a review of existing literature and personal observations. Predominant risk factors of light exposure and vibration are identified. Recommendations are made for implementation of visible storage and visible conservation at other museums, based on these research findings.

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The Role of Museums in the Preservation and Management of International Heritage Routes

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Yun Shun Susie Chung

Yun Shun Susie Chung, Ph.D., Independent Scholar. Chicago, Illinois. yssc_2@yahoo.com

Abstract Heritage routes have been existent since pilgrimages began to religious sites. Routes for trade and discovery are also geographical imprints of heritage. Modern techniques for the preservation and management of heritage routes have been employed since the twentieth century, especially with national measures to protect and enhance them, such as the National Trails System Act, which was passed in 1968 in the United States. Heritage routes are designated by local, regional, and national communities to preserve, manage, and profit from the historical, cultural, and natural resources that are inventoried and documented to create the significance of the trail. Heritage routes and tourism have been a collaborative measure. A national promotion of heritage routes and tourism, the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Trail Project (2003–2006) commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The Texas Plains Trail, organized by the Texas Historical Commission, involves 52 counties in West Texas to coordinate tourism along the trail as well as to promote sustainable development. Thus the preservation and management of heritage routes bring together the wealth of cultural and natural resources into one program. It produces the collaboration of local communities as well as the connection of cultures encompassing geographical boundaries. Museums are a part of the heritage resources that are inventoried in heritage routes. The role of museums in the preservation and management of heritage routes is the subject of this paper.

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A Study of the Deterioration of Story-Book Graphic Art on Plastics at Emporia State University

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Heather A. Wade

Heather A. Wade, CA, Assistant Professor and University Archivist, Emporia State University, 1200 Commercial Street, Campus Box 4051, Emporia, Kansas 66801, phone: 620-341-5034; email: hwade@emporia.edu

Abstract This paper examines the long-term effects of the printing processes and uncontrolled storage climate on a series of original children’s book illustrations that were executed on sheets of cellulose acetate and vinyl during the 1930s-1960s. Unintended at creation for permanent retention, the art-on-plastic posed intrinsic preservation challenges even as it was accepted into Emporia State University’s collections in 1972; however, an unstable climate in the collections storage facility has expedited the deterioration of the acetates. Art on vinyl has not yet shown signs of deterioration. This paper will explain the process that seven artists who worked with acetates used to replicate children’s book illustrations on acetate and vinyl during the 1930s-1960s; it will explore the problems inherent in preserving acetates and vinyl; and it will examine the impact of the loss of this art-on-plastic to the study of the history of children’s book publishing.

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