Gerald Ford Conservation Center

We often think that because we value something, it was always seen as valuable and worth keeping.  Especially if that cherished object is old, we like to think that it was previously held in high regard.  But objects come in and out of fashion. 

Seventy-five years ago, the USS Missouri was the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan to Allied Forces, ending World War II.  The signing of the surrender took place on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.  The Missouri was the last battleship commissioned by the United States and had been christened at her launching by Mary Margaret Truman, daughter of Harry S. Truman, then a United States Senator from Missouri. 

There has been a lot of buzz lately about the United States Postal Service and the essential public service it provides.  Not only does it ensure our letters and important documents arrive on time, but it is a lifeline for small businesses and people who need medication delivered. It enables mail-in voting when people are away or cannot vote in-person, and it employs nearly 100,000 veterans!  The USPS is also the only mail service that serves remote, rural areas. 

sketch of colorful mural of abstract shapes

A piece recently treated at the Ford Center is this study for a mural entitled Swing Landscape by artist Stuart Davis.  Davis was a New York artist who studied under Nebraska-raised artist Robert Henri.  The mural was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration for a housing project in Brooklyn, New York and depicts the Gloucester, Massachusetts, waterfront.  Influenced by jazz, radio, film and consumer products in America, Stuart’s work makes use of vibrant colors, rhythm and abstract shapes.  The mural is an oil on canvas that measures approxim

A woman holds up a yard stick to measure the height of a clear plastic bubble that covers the sealed box with a slicker inside.

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.

An official document. In addition to the writing there is a coat of arms at the top, a drawing of a soldier and native american shaking hands at the bottom, and a drawing of a shield and weapons on the lower proper right.

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.

During treatment photo shows painting with left half cleaned and right half uncleaned.

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.  

Close up shot of sticky trap with many insects on it.

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.

Mold growth on leather saddle

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

Detail photograph of a board with dyed cotton fabric swatches. The blotter covering the top half of the rows of swatches is lifted to reveal the original dye colors underneath.  The exposed bottom half are noticeably faded.

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. 

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