Medium 9781442271340

Collections Vol 12 N1

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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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Growing FLORES for the Museum

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Elizabeth (Elee) Wood, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Museum Studies, Director, Museum Studies Program, Public Scholar of Museums, Families, and Learning, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; eljwood@iupui.edu Alysha Zemanek Graduate Student, Public History Program, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; azemanek@iupui.edu Laura Weiss Audience Research Associate at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Laura.Weiss@philamuseum.org Christian G. Carron Director of Collections, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis; ChrisC@childrensmuseum.org Abstract The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, founded in 1925, is one of few children’s museums with a substantial collection. The changing needs of family audiences, and the museum’s shift in direction toward a family learning mission, began to raise several questions for the collections and curatorial staff regarding the selection of objects that would hold the greatest potential for use with family audiences. The questions led to the development of the Family Learning Object Rating and Evaluation System (FLORES). This case study describes the development of the rating instrument and strategies the team took to fine-tune its use through input from curators and museum visitor preferences. By drawing on inherent object qualities as well as visitor preferences, museums can find ways to better understand the visitor-object relationship and in turn move toward more intentional selection and inclusion of objects in exhibition planning. See All Chapters

Heritage of the Markham Car Collection Estrangement from the West Australian Motoring Community

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Pauline Joseph

Lecturer in Records and Archives Management, Department of Information Studies, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia; p.joseph@curtin.edu.au

Abstract The Markham car collection heritage was entrusted with the Western Australian Museum in 1969. Subsequent events caused estrangement between the state’s motoring community and the Museum, and forty-seven years later still engender anger in motoring enthusiasts in Western Australia. Recollections of what actually happened are inconsistent; this paper investigates what happened and what went wrong. A qualitative research approach using interviews, archival records, car club magazines, and newspaper clippings was employed. The interviews were conducted with selected representatives from the motoring community and the Markham brothers. The paper concludes with discussion on the lessons learnt from this controversial incident for the Markham family, motoring community, and cultural institutions. Questions about trust and ethics with sellers, donors, and depositors, including the role of cultural institutions as custodians of national heritage, are posed.

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A Corner Cupboard Spills Family History

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NOTES FROM THE FIELD

Cheryl Harper

Artist/independent curator and organizer of exhibition projects, charperartist@hotmail.com

Abstract As baby boomers assist their parents in downsizing to their next stage of life, many adult children are inheriting collections that have been passed down through generations. Instead of dispersing objects that may no longer have family stories or information connected to them, one may, with the assistance of Internet search engines, genealogical sites, and historical libraries, discover lost context for these heirlooms. The results may restore history to some objects, create avenues for further research, and identify objects that may be sold within specialized markets and auctions. This case study explains how an art historian with assistance from her amateur genealogist husband approached their family legacy of objects.

The Harper corner cupboard is not fancy, has only residual evidence of the original milk paint finish typical of such Pennsylvania Berks County furniture, but has been stubbornly passed down through generations for at least 150 years. A family story is that when the banks of the river near the family home overflowed, the cupboard floated down the Schuylkill and was rescued, without, one assumes, much paint. Lisa Minardi, assitant curator at the Winterthur Museum, dated through photos, the cabinet circa 1830. She observed that oak grained paint was a later popular Victorian treatment. Every female Harper who owned it placed her own precious belongings and bric-a-brac locked behind twelve panes of hand-molded glass resting on a bottom cabinet with a single panel door. There are holes on the underside of four deep shelves where cups once hung, a double track of grooves that surround the perimeter to hold plates, and short wood stops to keep trays in place at the rear. In 2014, I became the designated person to pack up its contents. My late mother-in-law, its most recent owner, never spoke much about what she chose to put in the cupboard and generally was not at all interested in fine things but the contents in the cabinet included a variety of ceramic, glass, silver, and other intriguing objects. I am an art historian and independent curator and so the mysteries of the corner cupboard contents became the springboard to a serious research project for me, the next caretaker.

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Dinosaurs and Dioramas: Creating Natural History Exhibitions

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REVIEW by Sarah J. Chicone and Richard A. Kissel. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press. 2014. 157 pages. ISBN: 978-1-61132-275-0 Reviewed by Andrew Spence, Manager of Public Programs & Events, Kentucky Science Center, 727 W. Main St., Louisville, Kentucky, 40202; Andrew.spence@louisvilleky.gov Sarah Chicone and Richard Kissel’s Dinosaurs and Dioramas deftly navigates the time and resource-consuming process of creating Natural History exhibitions. Weighing in at an easily digestible 157 pages, this book succinctly covers all aspects of developing and designing exhibitions. Extremely content-rich, it also provides a variety of illustrations to elucidate both successes and mistakes seen in exhibitions from around the globe.The book is divided into two parts. Part 1, titled “Science Sets the Stage,” gives a brief history of natural history and nature of science in two chapters. Chapter One’s history is a refresher for all but the most novice of natural history museum studies students and includes expected references to cabinets of curiosity, the Linnaean system of classification, and Carl Akeley’s famous models. The mission statement word cloud from the 21st Century Learning in Natural History Settings conference (2012) is a welcome addition here to bring this history up to the modern day. See All Chapters

Curating Biocultural Collections: A Handbook

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by Jan Salick, Katie Konchar, and Mark Nesbitt, editors. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens. 2014. 250 pp. ISBN 978-1-84246-498-4 Reviewed by Rose Kubiatowicz, Museum Consultant & Owner of Have Gloves Will Travel, LLC; rosekubi@earthlink.net In the past I worked with seed collections, ethnographic collections and ethnobio-logical products at the Science Museum of Minnesota where I developed Oh No! Ethnobotany, a program for the safe handling and storage of potentially hazardous ethnobotanical materials. Today, I work with a number of small history museums and private collections that contain ethnographic, ethnobiological products and ethnozoological collections. Thus, with great interest, I read Curating Biocultural Collections: A Handbook. Based upon my experiences, I have concluded that this book would be a valuable addition to any professional’s shelf of resource books. This volume illuminates a world of work, tradition, insight and foresight. It is a “go-to” book for both young professionals, who can turn to Curating Biocultural Collections: A Handbook for lucid, practical advice on the essentials of effective biocultural curation, and for experienced colleagues who will find it a rich compendium to enhance and refresh their knowledge, and rethink their assumptions. See All Chapters

The Care and Keeping of Cultural Facilities

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by Angela Person-Harm and Judie Cooper, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. 2014. 307 pp. ISBN 978-0-7591-2360-1 Reviewed by Deborah Rose Van Horn, Registrar, Kentucky Historical Society, 100 W. Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601; deborah.vanhorn@ky.gov The Care and Keeping of Cultural Facilities is an in-depth look at facilities management in several different types of cultural facilities. This book takes the reader through an overview of facilities management and the ways in which these tasks impact the daily workings of a cultural institution. The book offers compelling examples throughout the text from institutions ranging from museums and libraries to botanical gardens and zoos. It is a great resource for professionals that are new to facilities management, are new to cultural facilities, or have to work with the facilities management staff in a cultural institution.The authors are careful to point out the challenges of balancing the needs of the collection—whether an artifact, animal, or plant—with the needs of the infrastructure of the building. The text includes great examples from institutions across the country on how to balance these needs. It also encourages the facilities manager to work with the facility leadership to make sure that facility maintenance is a priority and that it is not deferred until the costs become too great. See All Chapters

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