Gerald Ford Conservation Center

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. 

Woman standing over sink, lifts a pencil sketch on paper out of water bath.

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. 

mural of Transfiguration behind alter.  Scaffolding set up in front of mural.

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.


panoramic photo of brick church on the open plains

man removes varnish with cotton swab from section of portrait of man

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. 

two women wash white dress in large sink

As you've no doubt heard by now, the Nebraska History Museum is celebrating the opening of a new exhibit later this month. The Ford Conservation Center helped to restore some of the artifacts that will be featured in the exhibit.

Tarnished copper alloy trophy before treatment

During World War II, the US Army Air Force would practice bombing runs in preparation for battle.  They had designated bombing ranges where pilots could drop the bombs at a safe distance.  Unfortunately, one Nebraska town learned the hard way that practice does not always make perfect.  In the wee hours of August 16, 1943, a practice bombing run dropped six bombs on Tarnov, NE, mistaking the town lights for the bombing range. Thankfully no one was injured.

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