Medium 9781442267787

Collections Vol 7 N3

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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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Soapbox for the Automobile: Bumper Sticker History, Identification, and Preservation

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Conservator and Associate Librarian, University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence, KS 66045-7544; email: wbaker@ku.edu

Abstract First produced in the late 1940s, the bumper sticker quickly gained prominence in the early 1950s and over the years has served a wide range of purposes—from advertising tourist attractions and promoting public safety to political campaigning. As a result, many bumper stickers holding value as historical, cultural, or aesthetic artifacts have been collected by archives, museums, and libraries. Due to their potentially unstable composition, however, bumper stickers often present challenging preservation issues. In order to identify the types of bumper stickers currently held by U.S. cultural institutions and assess their preservation needs, a survey of over two-thousand bumper stickers was conducted. This paper documents the survey findings and provides guidance for dating and preserving bumper stickers.

The bumper sticker is a genuine North American product, rooted in post-World War II experimentation with war-time materials—including daylight fluorescent inks, pressure-sensitive adhesives, vinyl, and silicone—and the maturation of commercial screen printing. Americans’ post-war obsession with the automobile and the freedom it afforded fueled the popularity of the bumper sticker. The earliest bumper stickers—or “bumper strips,” as they were known until the 1960s—advertised tourist attractions, public safety initiatives, political campaigns, radio and television stations, and political and personal viewpoints. Later bumper stickers documented document a range of historical and social events and trends. As ephemeral artifacts broadcasting historical and social events and trends, bumper stickers are widely collected by museums, archives, and libraries. Given their purpose, however, bumper stickers were designed to last for weeks or months; removability and impermanence were, in fact, selling points. As a result, preserving bumper stickers presents challenges: stickers may discolor, adhere to adjacent stickers or paper collections over time, and release gases that may hasten the degradation of some types of collections stored nearby.

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Preserving 140 years of Archaeological Records in the Peabody Museum Archives

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Judy Jungels, Assistant Conservator, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 11 Divinity Ave. Cambridge, MA 02138; phone: 617-496-9745; email: jjungels@fas.harvard.edu

T. Rose Holdcraft, Conservator, Administrative Head of Conservation, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 11 Divinity Ave. Cambridge, MA 02138; phone: 617-495-2487; email: tholdcr@fas.harvard. edu

India Spartz, Senior Archivist, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 11 Divinity Ave. Cambridge, MA 02138; phone: 617-496-3199; email: spartz@fas.harvard.edu

Abstract Over the past decades, the Archives of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University has been serving the research, teaching, and publication needs of an increasing range and number of diverse local and international audiences. In its ongoing efforts towards enhanced professionalization, the Peabody Museum has integrated digitization as a means of expanding collections access and preservation. This paper focuses on a large collection of 6,900 oversized archaeological site-related documents, printed and annotated maps, and architectural blueprints previously not physically accessible due to their rolled state or other condition issues. This paper describes the planning phases and the implementation program (documentation, condition assessment, conservation treatment and reorganization) to make these documents available for use and future digitization. Discussion of the highlights of the North, Central, and South American archaeology-related archival collections is included.

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Eli Lilly Jr. (1885–1977): How New Science and Historic Archives Reveal a Collector's Decision-Making Process

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Independent researcher, Indianapolis, Indiana; Retired Associate Professor of Neurology: Indiana University; email: DoctorShirleyM@aol.com

Abstract A number of previous authors have recently written about motivations for collecting including several in this journal. This paper carries that exploration a step further. It examines the scientific basis of the decision making process of an important American collector of the mid-twentieth century, Eli Lilly Jr. He formed the core of the Chinese collection now housed in the Indianapolis Museum of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana. Interestingly enough, Lilly’s approach was very similar to present day collectors. Though this is Mr. Lilly’s story, it could be that of anyone who gathers valuable objects. Indeed, science supports this point of view: that why and how we collect is rooted in our neurobiology.

When collectors collect, it is primarily because it gives them pleasure, a known motivator of human behavior. Nevertheless, this stimulus can be blocked because most collecting choices are constrained by available monies or other factors such as fear of making the wrong purchase. Until recently, the science behind collector’s decision-making was rudimentary. In the last twenty years, however, neuroeconomics has provided new insights.1

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Promoting Innovation: Standards and Dialogue for Public Art Resources

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R. Arvid Nelsen, Head of Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, Curator of Northwest Architectural Archives, Rare Materials Conservation Coordinator, Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN phone: 612-625-4867; email: nels0307@umn.edu

Helen Lessick, Independent Artist and Program Manager, Web Resources for Art in Public, Los Angeles, CA email: wresources4publicart@gmail.com

Abstract This paper aims to review practices in cataloguing public art collection archives and recent efforts to publicly present those records. We examine how to improve communication between knowledge bases to educate, inform and improve search results. Re-examining contemporary public art — a national, civic collection of permanent, temporary and ephemeral artworks — we explore current online standards and auxiliary applications. This paper reveals the failure of vocabulary standards in traditional collections to reflect contemporary artists’ diverse toolkit to address site and engage audience beyond traditional venues. With this paper we present the University of Minnesota’s digitization of Public Art Review, an international print magazine with 23 years of publication history published by Forecast Public Art, and examine municipal collections and grassroots efforts to promote dialog and sharing between communities through Web Resources of Art in Public (WRAP).

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Protecting Staff from Pesticides in Museum Collections

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Assistant Registrar for Science at the Newark Museum, 49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102-3176; phone: 973-596-6548; email: lornstein@newarkmuseum.org

Abstract This paper examines the practices and procedures that contemporary museums have, or have not, instituted to protect collections staff. It springs from a concern that many museums, especially small local ones, may not be taking basic precautionary measures to protect their staff from the serious threats to their health posed by the historic use of pesticides in museum collections. Though some collection objects are hazardous at time of manufacture (e.g., taxidermy) or are naturally so (e.g., radioactive materials), this paper will focus on safety hazards created by pesticides on collection objects. After a brief discussion of the historic use of pesticides in museum collections and its potential effects on human health, a basic set of budget-friendly guidelines is provided that any museum may institute in order to better protect museum employees charged with the handling of collection objects from most hazards.

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Volunteers and Collections as Viewed From the Museum Mission Statement

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Robert P. Connolly, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Memphis, 316 Manning Hall, Memphis TN 38152; phone: 901-678-3331; email: rcnnolly@memphis.edu

Natalye B. Tate, Ph.D. Fellow, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 109 Davenport Hall, 607 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, IL 61801; phone: 217-333-3616; email: ntate2@illinois.edu

Abstract Museum mission statements typically mandate provisions for collections care and public outreach. As museums continue to transition into more fully participatory and audience-centered institutions, the role that volunteers and interns play with collections extends beyond simple hands-on experiential tasks. Rather, these individuals increasingly play roles in the creation and voicing of museum exhibits and programs. The relationship between the museum as a public institution and volunteers becomes more reciprocal and symbiotic. Through this process, the volunteer position moves from passive to active, as they increasingly take on a stakeholder’s role in the museum operation. This paper uses Simon’s scheme of contributory, collaborative, and co-creative projects coupled with Worts’ Critical Assessment Framework to consider these relationships. Their approaches are applied to the volunteer program at the C. H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa, an institution that interprets the Native American and traditional cultures of the Memphis, Tennessee region. Case studies based on collections curated at the Museum showed that the schemes of Simon and Worts proved useful in evaluating the mission mandates of the Museum’s volunteer programs.

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