Sunday, July 12, 2015

Week Six at Independence: Tying Up Loose Ends

                This week marked the end of storage room cleanup! It took about three weeks to finish the various units and shelves filled with original and reproduction objects alike. Here’s a recap of what this past week looked like:

                At the start of the week, I began wrapping up one of the storage rooms. As I approached the opposite end of the room, I noticed that the back wall was badly deteriorated due to falling plaster. The wall looked as if it had been slowly declining for several years, particularly because there were crystals of limestone coming through the wall. Two architectural historians at INDE and a visiting professor spend this week examining the wall and the building’s overall structure to determine a best solution. It appears that the entire original wall had deteriorated over time, thus, there was very little opportunity to salvage it. Despite the setback, the staff at INDE is confident that the wall can be repaired.

                Once I approached the final stages of my work in the storage room, I noticed the falling plaster from the wall. The shelves nearest to the plaster were covered in heavy plastic tarp so as to protect the artifacts from plaster and other associated debris. Thus, the state of the wall poses not only a risk to the structural integrity of the building itself, but also to the artifacts to which it is closest.

                Since I finished in the final storage room, I began working on smaller projects that needed to be addressed. While the two storage rooms I’ve worked in for the last few weeks hold original artifacts, another is occupied with reproductions of artifacts to be used in buildings such as Independence Hall. I dusted the materials in this room and vacuumed the surrounding areas. The location of this room was not near air vents or other openings; thus, It was virtually unaffected by the fire. My time was to perform routine care maintenance rather than to mediate the effects of the soot.

                Additionally, I measured muslin to cover upholstered chairs held in some of the storage areas. Muslin is unprocessed cotton, and it’s a perfect material to protect objects. It keeps pests away, absorbs moisture, and has a long life span. A routine washing is necessary, but muslin is a necessary museum tool. I measured the dimensions of approximately forty chairs to be fitted for a muslin covering. Then, Karie and I cut the strips according to my individual measurements. Because muslin is often stiff on its roll, Karie will wash the muslin in a standard home washing machine to make the muslin more pliable. Once this is done, I’ll start placing the material over the chairs to cover the upholstering and protect it from accumulated debris.

                Until next week!


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