SLAM Project 2015: World War II Section

March 18, 2015

Here I continue to post snapshots of the conservation work ahead for our upcoming new exhibits.  The Alaska State Library Archives and Museum (SLAM) project is in the construction phase, with opening of the new building planned for June 2016.  There are approximately 22 interpretive areas, around 90 exhibit cases, and roughly 2,500 objects. This section is about World War II, an area of the collection that has grown significantly in the past few years.  This is one of the areas that will be mannequin-intense, as we have quite a few uniforms from different service branches. Here are some of the artifacts that need some extra care from conservators.

ASM 2013-61-1 these remarkable fur lined pants have some tears that need to be repaired.

ASM 2013-61-1 these remarkable fleece lined pants from the Army Air Corps have some tears that need to be repaired.

The zipper of the pants suffers from tooth loss and corrosion.  This needs to be stabilized, and the display details strategized if the zipper cannot be zipped.

The zipper of the pants suffers from tooth loss and corrosion. This needs to be stabilized, and the display details strategized if the zipper cannot be zipped.

This barracks box from the Aleutian campaign contains clothing that must be addressed.  It may need to be vacuumed, and the arrangement and support of the garments in the box needs to be determined with aesthetics, interpretation, and long term preservation in mind.

This barracks box from the Aleutian campaign (ASM 96-59-1) contains clothing that must be addressed. It may need to be vacuumed, and the arrangement and support of the garments in the box needs to be determined with aesthetics, interpretation, and long term preservation in mind.

This USCG shirt (ASM III-O-856) is in great condition, except for the spotty staining overall that may be from mildew during storage before it was donated.  Stains on white fabrics are notoriously difficult to remove.  Still, I think we will try...

This USCG shirt (ASM III-O-856) is in great condition, except for the spotty staining overall that may be from mildew during storage before it was donated. Stains on white fabrics are notoriously difficult to remove. Still, I think we will try…

This gas mask, III-O-165, has a lot of rubber components that are still flexible, but who knows how long that flexibility will last?  Can we come up with a support system that will allow the item to be interpreted and studied in the future even when it gets stiff?

This gas mask, III-O-165, has a lot of rubber components that are still flexible, but who knows how long that flexibility will last? Can we come up with a support system that will allow the item to be interpreted and studied in the future even when it gets stiff?

The canister of the gas mask has some corrosion.  This needs to be characterized and stabilized.

The canister of the gas mask has some corrosion. This needs to be characterized and stabilized.

 

ASM III-O-364 is a Japanese charcoal burning stove.  Staff here are very fond of its industrial design elements.  Inside there is a lot of dirt and rocks.  We will need to determine if those are to be kept inside or not.

ASM III-O-364 is a Japanese charcoal burning stove. Staff here are very fond of its industrial design elements. The inside is full of dirt and rocks. We will need to determine if those are to be kept inside or not.

This Japanese rifle, III-O-240, has areas of corrosion and some elements that might be bent or out of position.  It is an Arisaka Model 99 collected at Kiska.

This Japanese rifle, III-O-240, has areas of corrosion and some elements that might be bent or out of position. It is an Arisaka Model 99 collected at Kiska.

The strap of the rifle is actively flaking an orange powder.  This material will need to be characterized and stabilized before it can go on display.

The strap of the rifle is actively flaking an orange powder. This material will need to be characterized and stabilized before it can go on display.

In this image, paper conservator Karen Zukor is examining and testing a watercolor painting from 1943 Adak Island by Warren Beach.  The artwork has some severe spotty staining on the back that is beginning to show through to the front.  A later to posting will detail some of our strategies to control light levels in the upcoming exhibits.

In this image, paper conservator Karen Zukor is examining and testing a watercolor painting from 1943 Adak Island by Warren Beach. The artwork has some severe spotty staining on the back that is beginning to show through to the front. A later to posting will detail some of our strategies to control light levels in the upcoming exhibits. This painting will need treatment before exhibition.


SLAM Project 2015: Maritime Section

March 17, 2015

Here is another snapshot of the conservation work ahead for our upcoming new exhibits.  The Alaska State Library Archives and Museum (SLAM) project is in the construction phase, with opening of the new building planned for June 2016.  There are approximately 22 interpretive areas, around 90 exhibit cases, and roughly 2,500 objects. This section, Maritime, has a LOT going on!  Anjuli Grantham was here from Kodiak earlier to help with some artifact selection and history, Tim Troll and Andrew Washburn have both told me a lot about the Bristol Bay fishery, and I’ve been in touch with Louie Bartos at least weekly for some time now getting a replica sail made.  Here’s a link to an article about that sail by Megan Petersen at the Ketchikan Daily News, and another article by Matt Martin over in Dillingham for public radio station KDLG.

ASM 97-34-1Bristol Bay Double Ender, a fishing boat that will go on display, rigged with a new sail made by master sail maker Louie Bartos, and film footage will be projected on the replica sail.

ASM 97-34-1 Bristol Bay Double Ender, a fishing boat that will go on display, rigged with a new sail made by master sail maker Louie Bartos, and film footage will be projected on the replica sail.

Tim Troll saw the boat, and had lots of good info.  Here he is looking at the sprit, part of how the sail was held up.  Tim thinks we ought to paint the boat.

Tim Troll saw the boat, and had lots of good info. Here he is looking at the sprit, part of how the sail was held up. Tim thinks we ought to paint the boat.

Here's a plaque inside, I don't know exactly what the numbers stand for.  It was from the Libby McNeill & Libby cannery, and would have been a peachy orange color originally.

Here’s a plaque inside, I don’t know exactly what the numbers stand for. The boat was from the Libby McNeill & Libby cannery, and would have been a peachy orange color originally.

We have two sails that go with this boat, but didn't want to fade a rectangle into one by projecting film footage.  So I took the sail to the loft studio of Louie Bartos so he could measure and make a replica for us.

We have two sails that go with this boat, but didn’t want to fade a rectangle into one by projecting film footage. So I took the sail to the loft studio of Louie Bartos so he could measure and make a replica for us.

I first heard of Louie at the WOAM conference back in 2010.  An internationally renowned sail expert right in Ketchikan!  How could we pass up the chance to get a sail made? Here Louie shows a couple of his sailmaking palms...

I first heard of Louie at the WOAM conference back in 2010. An internationally renowned sail expert right in Ketchikan! How could we pass up the chance to get a sail made? Here Louie shows a couple of his sailmaking palms…the thumb goes through the big hole.  When you make a sail, you need more than a thimble…

We've got a rudder, and will use it.  But will need to make a replica mast because the ceiling is just not quite high enough. And we will probably buy new mast hoops because the originals are rather delicate now.

We’ve got a rudder, and will use it. But will need to make a replica mast because the ceiling is just not quite high enough. And we will probably buy new mast hoops because the originals are rather delicate now.

More photos of Maritime Section stuff below, but I have to make a pitch for our WISH LIST of things we would like to add to the Alaska State Museum collection for interpretation and to include in the display of the Bristol Bay Double Ender.  I think we could find loans of most of this, but ideally we would like to add items to the collection that come from the Bristol Bay fishery from this historic period…

  • Roller (that gadget that helps pull the net up without rubbing on the boat)
  • Cleats associated with roller
  • Oarlocks
  • Bailing Cans
  • Bilge Pump (the one that was supposed to come with the boat went missing in Homer)
  • Tent
  • Stoves: both the “Swede Style” and the “Italian Style”
  • 5 gallon water beaker
  • Old box compass, a few inches on a side
  • Old cannery dishware
  • Samples of caulking and caulking tools
We are putting out quite a few salmon cans, and their labels are quite marvelous.  We will be devising various methods of monitoring the risk from light fading for items like this.

We are putting out quite a few salmon cans, and their labels are quite marvelous. We will be devising various methods of monitoring the risk from light fading for items like this. (ASM 2000-39-1)

This is a stencil set from a cannery, and needs to have the dead spiders and dust removed without losing its authentic grime.

This is a stencil set from a cannery, and needs to have the dead spiders and dust removed without losing its authentic grime. (ASM 2005-9-36)

Several folks on staff are excited about this stencil from a boat called the Goldywn.  However, how to unroll and flatten it, how much to unroll, and whether to include the chunk of oar handle are tricky conservation dilemmas.

Several folks on staff are excited about this stencil (ASM III-O-635)  from a boat called the Goldywn. However, how to unroll and flatten it, how much to unroll, and whether to include the chunk of oar handle are tricky conservation dilemmas.

This deadeye, ASM II-O-290 from the Star of Bengal has some serious spalling rust issues.  Staff are disturbed by the resemblance to a skull, given the history of the ship...one of the worse maritime disasters in Alaska history...more than 110 Chinese cannery workers perished in the wreck.

This deadeye, ASM II-O-290 from the Star of Bengal has some serious spalling rust issues. Staff are disturbed by the resemblance to a skull, given the history of the ship…one of the worse maritime disasters in Alaska history…more than 110 Chinese cannery workers perished in the wreck.

This huge wok, ASM 2000-4-1 also has some rust issues.

This huge wok, ASM 2000-4-1 also has some rust issues.

 

We have quite a few instances like these lure where the object numbers have been put on in a place that is not the best for display purposes. (ASM 98-40-1).  We'll need to remove the numbers and re-label these lures.

We have quite a few instances like these lures where the object numbers have been put on in a place that is not the best for display purposes. (ASM 98-40-1). We’ll need to remove the numbers and re-label these lures.

 

 

 


SLAM Project 2015: Alutiiq/Sugpiaq Section

March 16, 2015

I’ve been posting snapshots if some of the conservation work ahead for our upcoming new exhibits.  The Alaska State Library Archives and Museum (SLAM) project is in the construction phase, with opening of the new building planned for June 2016.  There are approximately 22 interpretive areas, around 90 exhibit cases, and roughly 2,500 objects. The interpretive area addressed by this post is called “Alutiiq/Sugpiaq” and you might wonder why the two designations…actually, there could be more…including Chugach, Koniag, Qik’rtarmiut and others.  Each of these ethnonyms conveys a complicated context of history and identity, particularly connected to specific places and experiences of contact with various colonial forces, such as the Russians.  Which term is correct in which situation is a right of self-determination and personal preference for members of the Native community.  The two terms used to title the section are the result of feedback from community co-curators thusfar.

ASM II-F-9 this delicate bag will require conservation attention to insure it can be supported adequately while on exhibit.

ASM II-F-9 this delicate bag will require conservation attention to insure it can be supported adequately while on exhibit.

II-A-4944 Arctic Ground Squirrel Parka, lined with even more pelts.  This item will need a mannequin, and perhaps some stabilization at the shoulder seams.

II-A-4944 Arctic Ground Squirrel Parka, lined with even more pelts. This item will need a mannequin, and perhaps some stabilization at the shoulder seams.

Here's an old pic of Paul Gardinier showing me some tricks of mannequin making.  We will need some 60 mannequins or more for the SLAM project.  Paul and other staff will be working on this intensely this July.

Here’s an old pic of Paul Gardinier showing me some tricks of mannequin making. We will need some 60 mannequins or more for the SLAM project. Paul and other staff will be working on this intensely this July.

I don't have a lot of conservation concerns in this section of the exhibit, so this is a good time to show the floor plan for the new exhibits.

I don’t have a lot of conservation concerns in this section of the exhibit, so this is a good time to show the floor plan for the new exhibits.

Here's another sense of how the galleries might look.

Here’s another sense of how the galleries might look.

And here is an artist rendering from the architects of what the outside might look like...

And here is an artist rendering from the architects of what the outside might look like…


SLAM Project 2015: Foreign Voyagers Section

March 9, 2015

I’ve been posting snapshots if some of the conservation work ahead for our upcoming new exhibits.  The Alaska State Library Archives and Museum (SLAM) project is in the construction phase, with opening of the new building planned for June 2016.  There are approximately 22 interpretive areas, around 90 exhibit cases, and roughly 2,500 objects. The interpretive area addressed by this post is called “Sails on the Horizon: Foreign Voyagers in Native Alaska.”  Many of the items in it are maps and prints about early explorers in the area and what some of the first encounters were like between Europeans and Alaska Natives.  Because there are not a lot of conservation treatments needed in this section, I’m going to include images of the voyage between the different locations in downtown Juneau that conservators will be working this summer, since I will have 3 graduate conservation students voyaging here to work with me and I bet they would like a glimpse (more on them later)…

Paper conservator Karen Zukor came up in January to consult with us.  Here she is explaining the issues with an artwork.  L to R curator Steve Henrikson,exhibit curator Jackie Manning, back of my head, exhibit designer Aaron Elmore, exhibit coordinator Paul Gardinier, and Karen Zukor.

Paper conservator Karen Zukor came up in January to consult with us. Here she is explaining the issues with an artwork. L to R curator Steve Henrikson, exhibit curator Jackie Manning, back of my head, exhibit designer Aaron Elmore, exhibit coordinator Paul Gardinier, and Karen Zukor.  Some Wonderwall specimens in foreground.  More on that later!

V-A-144 this image of the disaster at Lituya Bay was collected by Governor Heintzleman in France.  It has some staining and mat issues that will require treatment.  This is the image Karen was discussing in the previous pic.

V-A-144 this image of the disaster at Lituya Bay was collected by Governor Heintzleman in France. It has some staining and mat issues that will require treatment. This is the image Karen was discussing in the previous pic.

95-37-4-3 chest Sometimes called a Russian Chest or a Chinese Chest, these camphorwood chests covered with painted leather tacked down with brass tacks were part of early trade and found now in many Alaskan museum collections.  They almost always have the kind of damage seen here.

95-37-4-3 chest Sometimes called a Russian Chest or a Chinese Chest, these camphorwood chests covered with painted leather tacked down with brass tacks were part of early trade and found now in many Alaskan museum collections. They almost always have the kind of damage seen here.

Now for the walking tour! This is my desk in the State Office Building (folks here call it the SOB and they don't even snicker).

Now for the walking tour! This is my desk in the State Office Building (folks here call it the SOB and they don’t even snicker).

This is the front section of my temporary lab space.  It is an alternately exploding and collapsing universe of clutter.  It will be tidier when interns come...for a while.

This is the front section of my temporary lab space. It is an alternately exploding and collapsing universe of clutter. It will be tidier when interns come…for a while.

This is the back section of the temporary lab space, with a sink and a lot of supplies.  All those totes are from the 1000+ shipwreck artifacts we finished up last summer...

This is the back section of the temporary lab space, with a sink and a lot of supplies. All those totes are from the 1000+ shipwreck artifacts we finished up last summer…

This is the SOB atrium, where folks can get coffee, snacks, and free wifi.  That Haida totem pole by Dwight Wallace is in the museum collections (II-B-1632) but is not moving.

This is the SOB atrium, where folks can get coffee, snacks, and free wifi. That Haida totem pole by Dwight Wallace is in the museum collections (II-B-1632) but is not moving.

That organ under cover and its pipes in the chamber are in the museum collections too (III-O-688) but not moving.  You can hear it played live most Fridays over the lunch hour.

That organ under cover and its pipes in the chamber are in the museum collections too (III-O-688) but not moving. You can hear it played live most Fridays over the lunch hour.

This is the P2 level entrance of the SOB, where we exit to head over to the Vault.

This is the P2 level entrance of the SOB, where we exit to head over to the Vault.

As you leave the SOB, you see Bullwinkles, which is great for after work pizza, popcorn and a picher with co-workers.  Next door is the Twilight Café, which has my favorite Americano in town and a divine pork adobo burrito.  We cut across this parking lot to go to the Vault.

As you leave the SOB, you see Bullwinkle’s, which is great for after work pizza, popcorn and a pitcher with co-workers. Next door is the Twilight Café, which has my favorite Americano in town and a divine pork adobo burrito. We cut across this parking lot to go toward the Vault.

Here is the site of the new building as it looks on a rainy Thursday, March 5, 2015.  The weather may at times be that lousy this summer, but hopefully there will be sunny days, too.

Here is the site of the new building as it looks on a rainy Thursday, March 5, 2015. The weather may at times be that lousy this summer, but hopefully there will be sunny days, too.

This is the side of the building, and right around where the blue tarps are is the future conservation lab area.

This is the side of the building, and right around where the blue tarps are is the future conservation lab area.

Oops, wait, turn around!  Some orientation.  The tallest building in the background, behind the blue and yellowish one, is the SOB.  The blue one on the hill is the fisherman's lobbyist building.  And the reddish orange one is my house!

Oops, wait, turn around! Some orientation. The tallest building in the background, behind the blue and yellowish one, is the SOB. The blue one on the hill is the fisherman’s lobbyist building. And the reddish orange one is my house!

There's the bus, it stops several places near the site.  And the building with the blue stripes is Thibodeau's, which has a convenience store for sandwiches and coffee and friendly banter with Henry.

There’s the bus, it stops several places near the site. And the building with the blue stripes is Thibodeau’s, which has a convenience store for sandwiches and coffee and friendly banter with Henry.

If you cut between Thibodeau's and the Driftwood hotel, there's the Sandpiper Café, great breakfast and tasty lunch...especially the exotic burgers and waffle cut fries...

If you cut between Thibodeau’s and the Driftwood hotel, there’s the Sandpiper Café, great breakfast and tasty lunch…especially the exotic burgers and waffle cut fries…

Just past the Sandpiper you'll see the Vault, the completed section of the SLAM building that houses our collections.  We need PPE to get on site, including a hard hat, orange vest, goggles, and sturdy shoes.

Just past the Sandpiper a bit you’ll see the Vault, the completed section of the SLAM building that houses our collections. We need PPE to get on site, including a hard hat, orange vest, goggles, and sturdy shoes.

We enter the Vault through the exhibits shop, which is still being set up.

We enter the Vault through the exhibits shop, which is still being set up.

This is the metals section of the shop, where a LOT of mountmaking is going to be happening this summer.  It just started in earnest last week!

This is the metals section of the shop, where a LOT of mount making is going to be happening this summer. It just started in earnest last week!

Here's the Collections Processing Room (CPR) where the layouts, photography, and incoming objects are dealt with.

Here’s the Collections Processing Room (CPR) where the layouts, photography, and incoming objects are dealt with.

Eventually when we are allowed to have workstations in the Vault this will be the office of Andrew Washburn.  In the meantime, he has generously offered to let the conservation team use the space.  Obviously I have to prepare it a bit...things are in flux.

Eventually when we are allowed to have workstations in the Vault this will be the office of Andrew Washburn. In the meantime, he has generously offered to let the conservation team use the space. Obviously I have to prepare it a bit…things are in flux.

This is a view through the vault through the shop through all the door that must be opened to give access to the loading dock.  This is how we brought in the umiak (the walrus skin whaling boat)

This is a view through the collections storage part of the vault through the shop through all the doors that must be opened to give access to the loading dock. This is how we brought in the umiak (the walrus skin whaling boat)


SLAM Project 2015: Russian America Section

February 24, 2015

Here’s a snapshot of some of the conservation work ahead for the Russian America section of our upcoming new exhibits.  The Alaska State Library Archives and Museum (SLAM) project is in the construction phase, with opening of the new building planned for June 2016.  There are approximately 22 interpretive areas, around 90 exhibit cases, and roughly 2,500 objects. As I write this, we are beginning the ninth physical layout.

This important flag was thought to fly over Sitka during the transfer ceremony between the Russians and the Americans in 1867. ASM III-O-495

This important flag was thought to fly over Sitka during the transfer ceremony between the Russians and the Americans in 1867. ASM III-O-495

The wool of the flag sheds readily, and is rather delicate.

The wool of the flag sheds readily, and is rather delicate.

Records suggest the flag was stitched down to a support fabric of linen some time in the 1930s.  These stitches are not sufficient to allow the flag to be displayed at an incline as we would like, so some additional couching stitches will need to be added in many locations.

Records suggest the flag was stitched down to a support fabric of linen some time in the 1930s. These stitches are not sufficient to allow the flag to be displayed at an incline as we would like, so some additional couching stitches will need to be added in many locations.

This bust of William Seward by Chauncey Bradley Ives has long been in the entry to the Alaska State Library's Historical Collection, but will now help interpret Alaska's political history.  The stone is shockingly grimy.

This bust of William Seward by Chauncey Bradley Ives has long been in the entry to the Alaska State Library’s Historical Collection, but will now help interpret Alaska’s political history. The stone is shockingly grimy.

Many of the metals in the Russian America section have corrosion, polishing residues, failing lacquers, and other issues common to historic metals.  This samovar, ASM III-R-319, has a few of these issues on some components.

Many of the metals in the Russian America section have corrosion, polishing residues, failing lacquers, and other issues common to historic metals. This samovar, ASM III-R-319, has a few of these issues on some components.

This poor little Unangan (Aleut) kayaker has quite a few condition issues.  His lead hands are corroding, his visor has a broken off tip, the gutskin parka he is wearing has some old insect damage, and he is heavily soiled.  ASM II-F-272.

This poor little Unangan (Aleut) kayaker has quite a few condition issues. His lead hands are corroding, his visor has a broken off tip, the gutskin parka he is wearing has some old insect damage, and he is heavily soiled. ASM II-F-272.


SLAM Project 2015: Resilience Section

February 23, 2015

 

The Alaska State Library Archives and Museum (SLAM) project is in the construction phase, with opening of the new building planned for June 2016.  We are preparing collections for exhibit.  There are approximately 22 interpretive areas, around 90 exhibit cases, and roughly 2,500 objects. As I write this, we are beginning the ninth physical layout.  Here are some of the conservation tasks identified from the first layout and a glimpse of our process.  I hope to post regularly for each of these sections.  Stay tuned!

From L to R: exhibit designer Aaron Elmore, exhibits curator Jackie Manning and curator Steve Henrikson working together on the layout for the Resilience section of the new exhibits.

From L to R: exhibit designer Aaron Elmore, exhibits curator Jackie Manning and curator Steve Henrikson working together on the layout for the Resilience section of the new exhibits.

 

Jackie measures Kow.ee's police uniform while registrar Andrew Washburn holds it up.  Hardhats and loud vests are due to the collections storage and processing areas being in the middle of an active construction zone.  In order to access the site, we are required to wear protective gear.

Jackie measures Kow.ee’s police uniform (ASM III-O-416) while registrar Andrew Washburn holds it up. Hardhats and loud vests are due to the collections storage and processing areas being in the middle of an active construction zone. In order to access the site, we are required to wear protective gear.

This dress (bodice and skirt) was made and worn by Lily Yarkwaan.  Please note all spelling errors are mine!

This bodice (and skirt, not shown) was made and worn by Lily Yarkwaan. Please note all spelling errors are mine! ASM 2000-12-1

The dress has baleen stays inside, some of which are loose, as well as some wear and tear.  This will be stabilized before it is put on a mannequin.  Gearing up for making dozens of mannequins is starting now, too.

The dress has baleen stays inside, some of which are loose, as well as some wear and tear. This will be stabilized before it is put on a mannequin. Gearing up for making dozens of mannequins is starting now, too.

This Russian Orthodox lamp has wax residues (which we'd like to keep) and polishing residues (which we'd like to remove).

This Russian Orthodox lampada has wax residues (which we’d like to keep) and old polishing residues (which we’d like to remove). Polishing residues are disfiguring and can cause corrosion stress cracking in the metal. ASM 2001-10-12

Several of our Russian Orthodox icons had loose and flaking paint, expertly stabilized on site during a visit by paintings conservator Gwen Manthey.

Several of our Russian Orthodox icons had loose and flaking paint, expertly stabilized on site during a visit by paintings conservator Gwen Manthey.

This is an important 1872 painting of a fur seal rookery on St Paul Island in the Bering Sea by Henry W. Elliott.  Paper conservator Karen Zukor was here last month assessing the paper items designated for exhibit and gave us a condition report and cost estimate for treatment.

This is an important 1872 painting of a fur seal rookery on St Paul Island in the Bering Sea by Henry W. Elliott. Paper conservator Karen Zukor was here last month assessing the paper items designated for exhibit and gave us a condition report and cost estimate for treatment of this artwork. ASM 2005-41-1


Top 10 Projects: 2014

November 18, 2014

 

Eagle pedicure QP card

Eagle pedicure QP card

2013 was packed!  This is the most delayed I’ve ever posted a Top Ten list yet…yikes!  Most of this work is completed, but some of it is still in stream.  Our eagle beaks and feet have not quite all been treated, but thanks to our custom QP card we now know the proper color range.  These eagles, the snack food store, the dump, and dozens of live bald eagles are all within a small radius of space here in Juneau…coincidence?

1. EDENSHAW ARGILLITE SAFE

Lid of Edenshaw Compote SJ II-B-11

Lid of Edenshaw Compote SJ II-B-11

Bottom section of Edenshaw Compote SJ I-B-11

Bottom section of Edenshaw Compote SJ I-B-11

Several important pieces of argillite carving by Charles Edenshaw safely returned to Alaska from a loan to the Vancouver Art Gallery for their fabulous exhibition on the Haida master artist.  I’d love to write this up more in-depth soon…from a conservator’s point of view, argillite is unpredictable, fragile, and complicated to repair.  Allowing these large heavy pieces to travel made me nervous, and even more so when my favorite solution wouldn’t fit the budget.  As a compromise, the VAG sent Dwight Koss and Rory Gylander to pack and help courier the pieces.  They did a splendid job, the artworks were made more accessible to the source community via exhibition and catalog, and back again safe and sound.

2. PACKING COLLECTIONS FOR THE MUSEUM MOVE

storage supports bread racks

Many months of packing!  Check the index for my other blog posts about artifact storage solutions…

3. MOVING THE MUSEUM

Moving the 2-D art collection

Moving the 2-D art collection

How did we do it?  If you were at the Western Association for Art Conservation (WAAC) conference in San Francisco this year, you got to see the PowerPoint.  In a nutshell, Scott Carrlee wrote an IMLS Museums for America grant to bring dozens of museum professionals from across Alaska to come help us pack and move as a hands-on training and networking opportunity.  Win-win for everyone.  We had a six-week window to move about 40,000 objects, and utilized the Incident Command System to coordinate the effort.  The collections were moved into the new vault (in the midst of a construction zone) through a tunnel built of shipping containers.  One of the final objects to move was a 35-foot walrus skin boat.  You can see photos and read the story in the Juneau Empire: Airborne Umiak Sails Over Museum.

4.  WHEN YOU SEE GIANT HOLES RIPPED IN YOUR MUSEUM…

Example of Neo-Classical Brutalism, 1967-2014

Example of Neo-Classical Brutalism, 1967-2014

…you can breathe a bittersweet sigh of relief knowing all the collections were removed just a few short weeks ago.  This image shows the old building coming down at the same time the new one is being erected.  To the left of the image is the storage vault, already completed with the artifacts securely inside.  Goodbye old building, we will miss you!

5. COME FOR THE RUSTY IRON, STAY FOR THE EAGLE PEDICURE…

The amazing Lisa Imamura

The amazing Lisa Imamura

…and Lisa Imamura gets into conservation grad school at Queen’s!  With a Master’s degree in geology already in her back pocket, Lisa decided she’d prefer a career in conservation to a PhD in geology and began volunteering in the conservation department at the Alaska State Museum scrubbing rusty dirty wet shipwreck material.  That was back in late 2012.  She wore more hats in several areas of the museum (some of them even paid!) and she was a core member of the museum move team.  A total dynamo.  Towards the end, we let her work on picking garish paint off eagle feet.  She’s gonna be embarrassed I posted this, but Lisa take heart!  I chose a picture with a cute outfit and not your shipwreck-scrubbing gear!

6. COME FOR THE WATERLOGGED SILK WALLPAPER, GWEN…

29Aug2014 Gwen wallpaper

Gwen Manthey solves the wet silk wallpaper problem

…STAY FOR THE POLAR BEAR TONGUE!

Gwen Manthey takes on the polar bear tongue

Gwen Manthey takes on the polar bear tongue

What would you do, intrepid objects conservator, with two bolts of stinky, hundred-year-old shipwrecked silk wall covering with a painted floral design that just wanted to rub off on your fingers??  Lose sleep for many nights?  Check!  Write to conservation listserves and colleagues?  Check!  Wish it were someone else’s nightmare?  Double check.  Did I mention our building was about to be torn down??  Thankfully, the Alaska State Office of History and Archaeology helped us out with some funding to bring paintings conservator Gwen Manthey, who totally solved the problem.  Plus she volunteered some time to help us out with a few other issues, like knocking back a garishly pink polar bear tongue.  You can bet I want to bring her back for install time…

7.  TOM MCCLINTOCK WON’T LET YOU DOWN

26Aug2014 Tom eagle 3

Tom McClintock wedged between an eagle and a vintage snow machine

UCLA/ Getty graduate conservation student Tom McClintock took on a pile of motley tasks in his six weeks at the Alaska State Museum this summer, including eagles, basketry hats, shipwrecked carpenter’s polka dot pajamas, and moving many artifacts ranging from fine art to a large fishing boat.  In this challenging transition time, Tom’s skills, flexibility, and roll-with-it attitude were the perfect fit.  He even did dogsitting, bread baking and blueberry jam making for my boss’s boss’s boss.  How’s that for making the conservation department look good??  Thanks Tom!

8. FRAN RITCHIE LOVES CRITTERS

Aaron Elmore, Fran Ritchie, and Jackie Manning free a polar bear from a 1970s era exhibit mount

Aaron Elmore, Fran Ritchie, and Jackie Manning free a polar bear from a 1970s era exhibit mount

Conservator Fran Ritchie returned to Alaska this summer as part of a Rasmuson Foundation grant to help several institutions with taxidermy issues.  (Check her work on a leatherback turtle in Cordova!) It was Fran who determined the treatment protocol for our seven eagles, advised on numerous specimens, and assisted with liberating several creatures from hideous old mounts.  Why all the interest in natural history, you ask?

9. WONDERWALL!

Antlers for acquisition delivered to the museum in the Carrlee's trusty Ford Transit Connect.

Antlers for acquisition delivered to the museum in the Carrlee’s trusty Ford Transit Connect.

One of the exhibits designed for the new museum is the Wonderwall, a giant glass arch over one of the gallery entrances that will amaze visitors with an array of spectacular specimens from the collection.  Of course, this section of the museum is a special favorite of mine…

10. ARTIST INTENT

Conservator Scott Carrlee replaces an element from David Mollett's "Collection Cabinet" (ASM 2005-29-1) after consultation with the artist in 2006.

Conservator Scott Carrlee replaces an element from David Mollett’s “Collection Cabinet” (ASM 2005-29-1) after consultation with the artist in 2006.

While a tremendous amount of our time is directed at the new building, we are thinking ahead as well.  I co-presented a paper about artist intent with Sheldon Jackson Museum curator Jackie Fernandez at the Museums Alaska conference in Seward AK this fall.  Many Alaskan museums have been actively collecting contemporary artwork, thanks the generosity of the Rasmuson Foundation Art Acquisition Initiative.  Jackie interfaces quite a bit with artists who do residencies at the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka, and she also helps select contemporary Alaskan art to add to the collection.  As part of the Alaska State Museums, that collection falls under our conservation duties.  We are thinking of ways to proactively collect artist intent information about preservation and exhibition of these works.  Since Alaskan museums often collect works from the same artist, it would be great to have a mechanism to share this information.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 124 other followers