#SaveYourStuff

By Katie Burlison, Chief Curator

This week The American Library Association, along with institutions around the country, are celebrating preservation! We join them in advocating for the care of artifacts like books, letters, photographs, furniture, and other objects that shed light on the past.

Acid-free storage boxes at the Hermann-Grima House

Speaking of light…Did you know that the main factors causing deterioration of historical artifacts are light, temperature, relative humidity, pests, mold, water leaks and risk of flooding, and handling?

The collections of the Hermann-Grima and Gallier Historic Houses contain thousands of objects in need of care. We are entrusted with their preservation and are

proud of our high standards. For example, we use acid-free boxes to store any artifacts not on display, keep furniture and paintings out of direct light (notice all the lace/sheer curtains in both houses!), and carefully handle objects when we must handle them at all.

This winter we had two paintings from the Hermann-Grima House conserved. One was Alberta Kinsey’s c. 1925 oil on canvas “St. Louis Street Gate to Grima Courtyard,” which we received as a donation from descendants of the Grima family in 2010. After a delicate cleaning by a professional conservator, the painting looks the way it would have after the artist originally painted it.

After Conservation

Before Conservation

While not everyone has museum-quality artifacts or paintings of high monetary value, that doesn’t mean your family objects aren’t meaningful or don’t deserve to be preserved! The ALA’s website provides resources to help the public, as well as our nation’s museums and libraries, preserve their historical treasures. Would you like to learn more about saving those family photos collecting dust in the attic? How about a breakable family heirloom or 1890s love letter? Don’t even know where to start?

Here are the ALA-recommended “First Steps”:

http://www.ala.org/alcts/sites/ala.org.alcts/files/content/confevents/preswk/pdfs/PWfirststep_nodate.pdf

And more on “Saving Your Stuff”: http://www.ala.org/alcts/preservationweek/howto

Find out more about Preservation Week here: http://www.ala.org/alcts/preservationweek

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