Gerald Ford Conservation Center

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.

In terms of preservation, the Ford Conservation Center in Omaha, Nebraska, is one of the state’s best-kept secrets—and we’re trying to change that! We are the only regional conservation lab between Minneapolis and Denver, and we want more Nebraskans (and Iowans and Missourians and Kansans and South Dakotans!) to know what we have to offer. 

What is the Ford Conservation Center?

surface cleaning photograph, dirty cotton swab

Since 2006, October has been designated American Archives Month to raise awareness about the value and work of archives and archivists.  To celebrate, we are sharing information about work we do to help archives in the area.  Check back later in the month for resources available to archivists!


panoramic photo, students, University of Omaha, 1921

Little Reggie puppet before treatment

Puppets generally fall along a scale from Muppets (adorable and cuddly) to Ventriloquist Dummy (unsettling and creepy).  Thankfully, the twenty-eight puppets donated to the Nebraska History Museum in 2013 by George Churley of Lincoln, fall toward the Muppet end of the spectrum. Churley, a puppeteer and founder of the George Churley Puppet Company (in business from 1973 to 1980), donated the puppets along with photographs and audiovisual materials.

 

Imagine being responsible for a museum collection and coming across an artifact that appears to be melting before your eyes!  That is exactly what happened at the Ford Conservation Center recently.  Last year, we had received a group of objects from the Harry S. Truman Library.  The library staff wanted us to write proposals for treatment ahead of an exhibit on President Truman’s experience during World War I.  One of the objects was a seemingly ordinary celluloid protractor.  When it came to us, it was clear and intact.

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