Heritage Preservation

 

Collections Management

     In the first year of my applied museum studies program, I was introduced to all areas of the field but the one that grabbed my interest on top of the others was that of Collections Management. While each area holds their own strengths and respective special places in my heart, focusing on collections management is where I want to develope my career in the history and heritage field. Since realizing my focus early on in the program, I was free to create a path that would lead me towards working in directly collections management or a related position in the future.

     During my collections management studies in the museum program, I learned the ins and outs of this area through theory and various projects completed both independantly and in teams. In completing projects focusing on recording of artifact condition information, to analyzing historical buildings in order to complete an emergency preparedness plan, this area of museum and heritage work is quite varied and has challenged me more times than naught to improve and expand myself within this field. From there, I have been able to successfully apply my academic knowledge and skills into practical work through my field opportunities at Tucker House and Fairbairn House respectively. 

The following are all of the knowledge and skills that I have gained from both academic and field opportunities in collections management work:

  • Artifact condition reporting
  • Applying accession numbers
  • Accessioning and deaccessioning artifacts
  • Planning and writing Emergency Preparedness Plans
  • Composing storage plans for artifacts
  • Writing and preparing loan agreements
  • Fabrication of artifact storage boxes
  • Packing and storing of artifacts
  • Artifact provenance research and application
  • Database and Collections Management Software use and recording of artifact information through eHive, Minisys, and ACCESS

Fig.1- 19th century surveying tripods as a part of Artifact Accessioning and Storage Project for Tucker House Renewal Centre (July 2014)

Preservation

      Arm in arm with my conservation work has been that of preservating artifacts and historic objects across the different institutions and organizations that I have been a part of since first beginning my museum studies program. While conservation has taught me how to treat artifacts, preservation has taught how to ensure that future treatments are limited to as few as possible through proper care, handling, and storage of artifacts. As I have moved towards a focus on collections management, preservation nevertheless plays an important part in this area as knowing and understanding how an artifact must be in stored or handled, and in what environment, is paramount to proper protection of artifacts.

      Throughout my schooling and in my field opportunities, I have applied my artifact preservation knowledge to my work to ensure that not only the artifact is safe, but also to test my knowledge and learn more about preserving artifacts. This can only be accomplished through different field opportunities and various types of artifacts which I have done since first beginning my previous museum studies program. In learning and applying my preservation knowledge, I have gained valuable insight into the importance of preservation of artifacts and historical objects at institutions and organizations, and how better to communicate with the general public this notion so conservation treatments are prevented rather than expected.

With all of my preservation knowledge and experience, I hold the following capabilities in this area:

  • Understanding of preservation protocol elements: atmospheric conditions, heat and temperature, light and ultraviolet, mechanical, insects and rodentia
  • Proper preservation protocols for various artifact types: paper, wood, metals (iron, silver, copper), textiles, furniture, leather, ceramics
  • Proper preservation protocols for unique artifacts and objects (i.e. 1862 Map of Upper Canada, Architectural Blueprint of Tucker House) 
  • Analysis of historic buildings to identify areas of preservation concern
  • Fabrication of archival book storage boxes

Fig.2- Sole-surviving architectural blueprint of Tucker house, cir.1860's

Conservation

     One of the three main elements of my museum studies program and field work has been the area of artifact conservation which has played a substantial role in each opportunity that I have undertaken in this field. Since the beginning of my path towards a career in the museum and heritage field, I have treated and cleaned artifacts from different types of artifact groups. I did not simply nor foolishly jump into treating each artifact as soon as I placed them in front me, I underwent extensive overviews and periods of research before even composing a proposed treatment for each treatment project that I worked on. These pre-treatment steps saw me research the artifact at hand, the type of artifact, the significance and provenance, different treatment options available, and what tools and equipment I would need to undertake a treatment project. 

      As learned from my museum studies program, one of the most necessary elements of a conservation project and the conservation field as a whole is the importance of a condition treatment report in regards to an artifact and its preservation. In the learning and practical application of these documents, I have gained invaluable skills in the researching and significance designating of artifacts and historical objects, but more so all that conservation treatments take in regards to completing the work at hand. The meticulous note taking, pre-treatment and post-treatment documentation, the hours logged, the tasks completed per work period, and the overall conclusion are all elements of these CTR's that have challenged me and my abilities to improve myself in this area of museum and heritage studies. 

Through all of the work that I have undertaken and accomplished in the area of conservation, I hold the following knowledge and skills in this area:

  • Methods and practices for conservation treatments
  • Research and writing for significance and provenance of artifacts
  • Artifact Condition Treatment Report writing
  • Conservation treatment knowledge of paper, ceramic, iron, silver, and textile artifacts
  • Conservation treatment cleaning knowledge of paper, books, ceramic, iron, silver, textiles, furniture, and leather and metal

Conservation Projects:

  • Underwriter’s Survey Bureau: Map of Bytown Market from October 1956- Paper: Cleaning, repair, and encapsulation of artifact; September 2013
  • A.M.S.-pwned: Ceramic Saucer from October 2013- Ceramic; Cleaning, reconstruction, repair, and infill area of loss; October 2013
  • A.M.S.-owned: Ceramic Plate with Floral Design, 20th Century- Ceramic: Cleaning, reconstruction, repair, and infill area of loss with colour matching; January 2014
  • Cumberland Village Heritage Museum: Small Animal Leg Trap, cir.1920- Iron: Separation of parts, cleaning, reattachment of parts; February 2014
  • Laurier House: Large Candelabrum, cir.1920's- Silver: Cleaning, removal and reapplication of accession numbers, and wrapped and packed for transport and temporary storage; March 2014
  • Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village: Cream Sheet and Receipts, 1961; Paper: Separation of items, cleaning, encapsulation of each item, and placed within mylar folder as originally received; September 2014
  • Champlain Trail Museum and Pioneer Village: Redpath Sugar Sugar Bag, cir.1854-1949; Textile: Dry cleaning, aqueous cleaning, construction of storage box and placement within storage box; November 2014
  • Tucker House Renewal Centre: Hand-drawn maps belonging to Stephen Tucker Senior and Junior, cir.1860-1880; Paper: Dry cleaning, placement into storage unit; March 2015
  • Tucker House Renewal Centre: Removed Trunk Lid belonging to Tucker Family, 19th Century; Leather and Metal: Dry cleaning using vacuum and mechanical methods, placed into artifact storage room in Tucker House; April 2015
  • Tucker House Renewal Centre: Georgian-style Furntiure belonging to Tucker Family (Loveseat, rocking chair, and four sitting chairs), 19th Century; Wood and upholstery: Dry cleaning using vacuum and mechanical methods, placed into artifact storage room in Tucker House; April 2015

Fig.3- Treatment of cir. 1920 Small Animal Leg Trap belonging to Cumberland Village Heritage Museum (March 2014)

Fig.4- Cleaning of 19th century Georgian-type red-cushioned furniture set for Tucker House Renewal Centre (April 2015)

Exhibitions

     The third main area of museum work that I have focused on has been that of Exhibitions where I have acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to inceptualize and complete a museum exhibit along with everything that goes within one. Within my museum studies program I was put to the test to learn and absorb the knowledge and skills required to conceptualize and construct a functioning museum exhibit on any scale at any institution, from those first few words of an idea on paper, all the way to opening day of the exhibit to the public. It is the knowledge and skills gained from this program that I have applied to my field opportunities at Tucker House Renewal Centre, and even more so at Fairbairn House Heritage Centre. Everything that I have gained and applied in the area of exhibitions has been invaluable to my overall work in the museum and heritage field, and will continue to do so in the time to come by working in this field.

In all of my exhibition-focused work, I hold the following knowledge and skills:

  • Display mount fabrication of various materials for small to large artifact and objects of different types
  • Fabrication of small objects for display purposes
  • Wood, metal, and glass working tools for exhibit building tasks
  • Designing and building storage and transportation crates for varying artifacts
  • Exhibit planning from concept to completion
  • Exhibit installation preparation
  • Familiarity with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and SketchUp graphic design programs

Fig.5- 1862 Map of Upper Canada by George R. Tremaine and Co. belonging to Tucker House Renewal Centre (July 2014

Fig.6- Construction of Storage Crate for Douglas Cardinal Scale Model (April 2014)

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