The staff in the Objects Lab at the Ford Center had an extraordinary challenge this year. They were presented with a group of twelve archeological rubber raincoats, also known as slickers. This group of rubber raincoats is part of the collection of the Steamboat Bertrand, shipwrecked in 1865 and excavated in 1969 in what is now De Soto Wildlife Refuge.
When this document arrived at our Ford Conservation Center, it was in pretty rough shape. Thankfully, Hilary LeFevere, our expert Paper Conservator at the Ford Center, was able to do the hard task of properly conserving this piece of Nebraska history.
On January 1, 1863, Daniel Freeman filed the one of the first claims under the Homestead Act of 1862 in what is now Beatrice, Nebraska. When the Freemans built a cabin there, they became known as "America's First Homestead Family". The site of Freeman's claim is now Homestead National Monument of America, a unit of the National Park Service.
We are all familiar with the difficulties of avoiding pest infestations in our homes and offices. All buildings are in need of pest control. Developed for the agricultural industry, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems have been adapted for use by a wide array of businesses, including museums and libraries. A tailored IPM program assists in protecting an institution’s cultural collections by incorporating the long-term, low-toxicity principles. The four basic steps of an IPM program are: prevent, monitor, identify, and control.
Preserving the life of collections objects is not easy. One of the best ways to make sure they last as long as possible is to manage the temperature and relative humidity of their storage environment.
The conservators at our Ford Conservation Center are experts in preserving precious items
Exposure to visible and ultraviolet radiation can be a significant factor in the survival of objects. All wavelengths of radiation provide energy for deterioration reactions that degrade materials; the more powerful the radiation the faster the deterioration.
The Ford Conservation Center has been treating a series of sketches by Iowa artist George Simons. The sketches were gifted by a private donor to PACE (Pottawatomie Art Culture Entertainment) in Council Bluffs, IA.
Over the summer, Kenneth Bé, Ford Center Paintings Conservator, spent a week in a little town in Kansas. Surrounded by the beauty of the Kansas plains, Kenneth worked to clean a mural that had already survived so much.
Not every piece that comes into the Ford Center gets treated right away. Sometimes there is a backlog that builds up if a lot of work comes in to the labs, but sometimes objects are brought in to be assessed for later treatment. For instance, a museum may bring in a work of art to get a proposal and use the estimate to fundraise for the cost of treatment. It is a great opportunity for museums to share information about the importance of caring for their collections.