This month, we were so pleased to have guest speaker Allana Parker for our March 27th Brown Bag. While Allana attended K-State, she became one of the first interns the Chapman Center had in 2009, after which she attended KU. Allana is now the Curator of Design at the Riley County Historical Museum.
The Chapman Center has two collections it is working with. The first, a collection of diaries from an early 1900 pioneer woman, is fragile, presenting challenges as intern Mitchell Alexander uses Optimal Character Recognition to transcribe them to readable formats. The second, a vibrant collection of photos and memorabilia from Helen Rogler, has been exposed to some environmental hazards necessitating the use of a homemade humidifier, created by Emily Petermann, in flattening and unfolding the documents without perforations. We wanted to know how to safely handle these items in our temporary care and to ensure no further deterioration as we digitize these items for future generations.
Allana offered tons of helpful tips on preservation and how to ensure proper handling, display, and storage of important items in collections. Bringing neat examples, she demonstrated the damage of sun exposure to cloth and corroded paper clips to historical documents. We learned about the importance of guarding collections from humidity, light, off gassing materials like harmful plastics, and overuse. And, most importantly, students were taught to maintain the integrity of the original object!
The audience also got to see innovative and cost-effective ways that items can be displayed and stored such as textiles, books (in a way that protects the binding), and more with the help of foam, cotton muslin, and acid free storage materials!
Our team came away with a tool kit for doing the best we can to prevent deterioration of the items in the collections we work with now and those that students may work with in the future.
Written by Maggie Cody