Posts Tagged ‘artifacts’

I now think postcards are cool.

July 22, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve been here! Today marked the opening of the “Mailed from Maine: Vintage Postcards from the Kennebunks” exhibit. I’ve been working non-stop on this for about three weeks now, and not only do I know a whole lot more about the history of postcards, but I’m proud of how it turned out. Today was also the test run of how it actually looked to visitors, as an ElderHostel group tried out the interactives (and were also most interested in finding the bathrooms…).

The museum director, Tracy Baetz, gave me the chance to lead this exhibit. I chose the postcards; rearranged the gallery; took down the previous exhibit; researched postcard history; wrote labels and designed them; printed them all out and mounted them on mat board and then hung them; chose to enlarge certain graphics; figured out how to hang incredibly heavy double mat board with fishing line (the word here is frustration); built two interactive elements; and wrote the press release to the local newspapers about the exhibit. Today I had an interview with a writer for the Biddeford Journal-Tribune.

The interactives for the exhibit tests visitors’ knowledge of what they learned about postcard history by asking them to inspect a collection of six postcards and put them in order by print date; I developed an answer key that’s interactive in itself, three flip cards with┬ámini- images of each postcard sits beside the timeline. The other interactive allows visitors to “pluck” postcards from a nest (because we’re suggesting that postcards were the early version of Twitter) and try their hand at reading the messages on the back of each postcard. No one panick! These postcards aren’t real – we’ve produced hi-resolution scans of every postcard (front and back) and laminated them. I think this interactive is great because it shows that this exhibit isn’t just about the decoration on the postcards…it’s about what’s on the back, and what people were saying.

The real adventure took place a couple days ago whilst hanging a seven foot strip of vinyl lettering for the title of the exhibit. It seems that it could be simple, but as I’ve learned, it’s not. It looks great after the fact though! To add another of the five senses to the exhibit (instead of just sight), a loop of big band swing music is playing throughout the room and really infuses a sense of fun into the exhibit. I’m loving my job here and appreciate all the experience the staff is giving me!

The vinyl lettering after about an hour of applying it. I chose this font because it mirrors font on the backs of many postcards.

The vinyl lettering after about an hour of applying it. I chose this font because it mirrors font on the backs of many postcards.

Cheers!

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Sam K. Fox Is My Homeboy

June 10, 2009

So I’ve been working at the museum for two days now and I’m starting to get a sense of how this summer’s going to pan out.

First Day of Work(first day of work)

I should begin by explaining that the Sam K. Fox Museum has NO staff. It is entirely run by volunteers. Even the woman who applied to the Alaska State Museum for an intern (and got me) is a volunteer. This, of course, means that all the wonderful people who have anything to do with the museum also have day jobs. Which in turn means, that most of the time I am alone in the museum. Luckily, it’s connected to the city library where there are a couple of nice teenagers working. The other good thing about the library connection is that it gets us visitors. People come in to use the library, see we’re right there, and take a turn through the museum, too. So I do occassionally have contact with living humans during the day.

With no real staff, there’s a LOT to be done here in Dillingham. First and foremost on my list of things to accomplish is essentially a complete inventory of the museum’s collections as well as entering all of that information into Past Perfect, which the museum only recently obtained. Which brings us to obstacle number one: Until now, accession records were maintained on cards, 2 to 3 sets of cards to be exact. That weren’t kept with one another. And so are discombobulated to say the least. I’m going through and matching up these cards, so as to get the most complete picture possible of the accession and condition of each object, then entering that info into the computer.

Old School(taking this…)

New School(and making it this!)

As most of you know, registration and collections management ain’t really my bag, but it has to be done. And I am more than willing to do it if it means the museum’s in a better place when I leave.

But it’s not all data entry for Johanna. Seeing as I’m it for the museum most of the time, I’ll get to dabble in a number of other areas as well. First up? Figuring out what to do about this:

Parka vs. Anorak(parkas galore!)

The museum has something like ten parkas in this exhibit in all different shapes and sizes, and mostly in terrifce condition. However, right now there’s virtually no information about any of them. Hopefully, next week I’ll begin bringing them out of the case in order to inventory them and do condition reports. I’ll also be researching the parkas and writing up label copy to go with them when they are reinstalled. In addition to the parka project, I have a similar task with our doll exhibit, and I’m helping Deb, my supervisor, research museum quality exhibit cases for a grant she’s preparing. I found an interesting website today for those of you interested in such things.

I’ve also hatched a plan. A plan that is only in the germination stage. A plan that involves developing some sort of lesson plan/activity for local teachers that will bring them and their classes into the museum, which rarely happens now. It would have to be the kind of activity that could be easily adapted to a variety of age levels as social studies standards in Alaska don’t target specific topics for specifc age levels. I’m thinking something with the parkas could work. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

And now for your object of the week:

Shaman's Hands(Shaman’s Hands)

These are the crown jewel of the museum’s collection/exhibits right now. The hands were part of a shaman’s ceremonial regalia. The picture in the background shows a shaman wearing the hands while he rids the boy in the picture of a devil/evil spirit/disease. The hands technically belong to the Smithsonian, but are on loan to the museum while they and the community attempt to uncover the identity of the shaman. I believe that if this man can be identified the Smithsonian will repatriate the hands to the community from whence he came.

So friends, I have stayed up WAY past my bedtime writing this post. It’s 3:15am and there’s still a glimmer of light on the horizon. Ugh, I doubt I’ll ever get used to that. So good night, good morning, good afternoon, whatever it is, wherever you are.