Gerald Ford Conservation Center

The Objects Lab at the Ford Center recently treated a interesting frame for a painting of Logan Fontenelle.  It is a large, wooden frame for the portrait by artist William Andrew Mackay. Logan Fontenelle, or Shon-ga-ska (White Horse), was the last ruling Chief of the Omaha Tribe.  He was the son of Me-um-bane, the daughter of chief Big Elk, and Lucien Fontenelle, a French-American fur trader from New Orleans.  

Chris Tysor stands in front of bust of Gerald Ford and photo of young Gerald Ford.

Normally our Ford Conservation Center's Gerald Ford exhibit is open by appointment only, but when Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Chris Tysor showed up they decided to make an exception.

1935 Kearney Opera House curtain, water damaged, before treatment

Many of the rural opera houses that once covered Nebraska are gone, but their painted curtains are often still around. Our Ford Conservation Center recently restored the curtain that decorated the Kearney Opera house for nearly 20 years.

front page of "Caring for Paintings" guide with new History Nebraska Logo

The History Nebraska Conservation Division has a new name, new look, and new ways to help you preserve your own collections.

Before treatment photo showing pencil drawing with multiple tears and soot damage

When a fire damaged Lila Vamosi's drawing "The Artist," she turned to our Gerald Ford Conservation Center to restore it. Although it still shows some scars, they now serve to tell a new story.

The treatment of the Creighton Side Saddle included many different types of materials, a variety of repair methods, and over 100 hours to complete!  Some of the most challenging treatments included the saddle blanket and the seat.  If you haven't read the first two blog posts about the side saddle, including the saddle's history and the rest of the treatment, you can read them here and

Conservator vacuums the saddle in a sling support to access the underside of the saddle.

When we last left the Creighton side saddle, it was in a sorry state.  It had been brought to the Ford Conservation Center for treatment in hopes that it could be stabilized and returned to a condition that could be displayed and stored safely for the long-term.  

Over the next three months, our blog posts will detail the history, condition, and treatment of a saddle that belongs to Creighton University.  It is believed to have been the saddle of Mary Lucretia Creighton and was in dire need of help when it arrived at the Ford Center.  While it looked like a hopeless case, it ended up being one of the most impressive transformations we’ve seen.

Photo of University of Nebraska Football team, circa 1890, George Flippin in the center

Even in larger cities like Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska always feels like a small town where everyone knows everyone else.  And the mission statement of the Nebraska State Historical Society is:“The Nebraska State Historical Society collects, preserves, and opens to all, the histories we share.”  Occasionally, the "histories we share" can be quite serendipitous!  I'm Megan Griffiths, a conservation technician at the Ford Center.  I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing one such story.

The oak chair that had been sitting so long in our vault had been used in the House Chamber of the second Nebraska State Capitol.  The first State Capitol was built in Lincoln between 1867 and 1868.  Due to poor construction and inferior materials, the building began to crumble.  By 1881 the first wing of a second State Capitol was completed and the entire building finished in 1888.

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