Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center, Photo: Colleen Curry

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Erica and I spent most of today working on the HRC’s yearly inventory. The museum has to complete two inventories each year. One is a controlled property inventory of objects worth over $2,000 and the other is a random sample of objects in the museum collection, regardless of value. Erica and I were responsible for the random sample inventory.

There were over two hundred items on the inventory, so it took quite some time to complete the inventory. Basically, we had to locate each object in storage, determine if it was where it said it was located in ANCS+ and indicate whether or not it was damaged. Most objects were easy to find, but the HRC has some recurring problems with inventory because of a lack of museum training and care by previous museum staff.

To explain the complex problem, the previous staff set aside catalog numbers in blocks to assign to objects according to their topic, rather than assigning them in numerical order as they were needed. Because of this, many of the numbers originally set aside are not yet assigned to objects. For inventory, ANCS+ creates a random sample of 200 plus objects. Many of these are catalog numbers that come up on the inventory are those that were set aside but not assigned to objects. Further, these numbers are not even entered into the database, so we have to look them up in handwritten catalog books, many of which are out of numerical order and are accompanied by cryptic notes. Needless to say, this is a big mess, one which the registrar Bridgette is constantly dealing with. Her goal at the HRC is to reassign all the blocks of numbers that were set aside years ago but are not in use. Bridgette tells us that this is why registrars need to be meticulous, detail oriented people so that messes like this aren’t made for others to fix.

Despite these issues, I enjoyed doing inventory because it was fun to see all the objects we had to find. I really liked looking at the photos and postcards we had to find.

Late in the afternoon, we went to see and inventory the vehicle storage in Gardiner. The HRC is not big enough to house all the historic vehicles, so they are stored off site at the transportation building.  The vehicle collection encompasses an entire warehouse and includes a great variety of objects from Yellowstone's history. They have everything from cars, trucks, carriages, the park's famous yellow buses, snowmobiles, and mopeds.           

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cataloging Textiles

Today I cataloged and housed articles of clothing for the first time. The two pieces I cataloged were a jacket and a snowsuit belonging to a former park geologist. To get information about the articles of clothing for ANCS+, I looked in the accession file for details about their significance. There, I found a few notes about each piece, which I included in their catalog records.

To label the clothing, I wrote their catalog numbers with acid free pen on twine tape, which I sewed onto the tags of each. I made cushioned hangers to store them by wrapping coat hangers with batting. Then, I hand sewed muslin cloth over the batting in the shape of the hangers. When the hangers were finished, I was ready to hang the two pieces in hanging textile storage cabinets.

One of the pieces I cataloged and housed

Sewn-on label

Coat hanger wrapped in batting

Finished coat hanger with batting and muslin

Today I also finished the metal rehousing project. I had finished putting all the objects in the collection with tarnish into corrosion intercept bags last week. I changed the location of each object in the database and put them away in their new storage location. Because the corrosion intercept bags turn black when they need to be changed, I made signs for the outside of the boxes that explained what was stored inside and that the bags need to be checked every six months to make sure they are still working. I also put notes to that effect in ANCS+ for each object .

Rehoused metal objects in their new location

Signs on the outside reminding that the corrosion intercept bags need to be checked

For the remainder of the day, I read about the 1999 buffalo walk performed by Native Americans. The walkers traveled 507 miles from South Dakota all the way to  the Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner for a ceremony to protest the park’s bison management plan. I started reading a binder prepared about the ceremony that included interviews, articles, and park documents that tried to give the full picture of this complex issue. I will discuss this issue in more detail in a later post.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Short Day at the Office

This morning, I worked on various smaller projects until the tour at 10 AM. My boyfriend, Colin, is up for a visit, so he came to the tour of the facility to see what I have been up to this summer. He had told me he was interested in seeing some older objects from the hotels, so I pulled some old dishware from the Mammoth Hotel to point out on the tour. After the tour, I showed Colin the historic furniture collection, which we do not bring the tour groups to see. He really enjoyed the behind the scenes look at a neat part of the HRC collection. I think he especially appreciated it because he (and I) used to work in an historic hotel in Glacier National Park, so it was interesting to see the history of similar hotels here in Yellowstone. Afterwards, Colleen was nice enough to let me out of work an hour early at noon (I took comp time and had planned on leaving at 1) so I could show Colin more of the park.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Very Busy Day at the HRC

This morning, a very large group came to the HRC for a tour of the facility. Because the group was so big, we had to split them into two smaller groups and bring them through the museum separately. Alicia gave the tour, but asked that the seasonals and interns join the group to make sure no one touched anything or wandered away from the tour into the other areas of storage. Unlike many tour groups we have had, this group was very inquisitive and that made the tour take much longer than usual. By the time both groups had toured the museum, half the morning was over!

After the tour and into the afternoon, I catalogued four hand-tinted and two black and white Haynes large format panoramic prints. Describing all six landscape scenes in the database was tedious, but the prints themselves were really neat. Hand-tinting was a popular process before the advent of color processing, and the result looks a lot like watercolors.

One of the black and white Haynes Prints

One of the hand-tinted Haynes prints

I housed the prints in large acid free map folders, which I labeled on the outside corner and placed in a map drawer for storage. One of the two black and white prints were scenes of Mammoth at the turn of the century. I was able to date the print because of context clues within the picture. Basically, I looked at the buildings in the print and then looked up the dates that they were built and torn down when applicable. This allowed me to narrow down the date the picture was taken to a narrow range of years.

I used a similar process for the other black and white photo of the Old Faithful Inn. The inn has changed over the years due to additions and renovations. One of the most noticeable changes is the number of finials (flagpoles) on top of the inn. When it was built, there were eight finials, but today there are only four remaining because of structural changes to the hotel. In the photo, there were eight finials, so I was able to determine that the photo was taken before the first renovation. I think it’s really fun to find the clues within the objects to date them!

Because me and Bridgette have the same birthday, we all went out to lunch on Wednesday to celebrate. Colleen was nice enough to treat me and Bridgette and it was fun to hang out with the library and archives people during the workday (usually, we don’t see each other because we work on different floors).

Then, I continued working on the metal rehousing project for the rest of the afternoon. I finished putting all the pieces into corrosion intercept bags, labeling the bags, and putting them into boxes. All I have left to do is change the location of all the objects in ANCS+ and put the boxes into upright shelving. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Curatorial Park Tour

Today was an amazing day! Colleen, the museum curator, took all of the interns and museum techs on a curatorial tour of Yellowstone. We started in Mammoth at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, where Colleen discussed the other hotels that had been located on and near the site of the current hotel. She also discussed some preservation issues that the museum and park must deal with. The first has to do with the park's historic furniture, much of which is in use in the hotels. This constant use of cataloged museum collections brings about several preservation and other issues. For example, the furniture is constantly moved by the hotel, which makes it hard to keep track of. 

The concessionaire, Xanterra, also runs a wood shop where they are constantly repairing, reupholstering, and repainting the furniture. The repainting especially caused problems in the past, because the museum's catalog numbers were being covered up with paint, making them impossible to keep track of. Xanterra and the museum came up with a solution - they put electronic chips in the furniture so they can be scanned during inventory. 

Another issue is one of light - the hotels have lots of windows and that means lots of sunlight, which has damaged a considerable number of irreplaceable objects. One example is a wooden map designed by Robert Reamer, an architect who designed many of the hotels in the park. The map now hangs in the Mammoth Hot Springs hotel. It has considerable sun damage, and has faded a great deal over the years. 

Our next stop was the Museum of the National Park Ranger in Norris. The museum is quite small and is located in an old Army building. The exhibits document the roles of park rangers over the years and the museum is staffed by volunteer park rangers who have retired. Colleen explained that the HRC has to take all the objects out the museum for the winters because the museum has a mouse and bug problem that they do not want to compromise the objects.   

After leaving the Museum of the National Park Ranger, we went to the site of a hotel that was built in Norris, but burned down before it ever opened when someone started a fire in an unfinished fireplace. We were able to see where a chimney once stood and there were ceramic sherds scattered around the site. Colleen showed us a picture of the hotel before it burned down.

The fireplace of the ill-fated hotel in Norris

From there, we headed to the Norris Museum in the Norris Geyser Basin. Interestingly, this museum was built with funding by one of the Rockefellers to the American Association of Museums, who used the money to build this and three other rustic museums in Yellowstone in the 1930's. This museum has exhibits on the geothermic features in the park.

Norris Museum

From Norris, we went to the Fishing Bridge Museum, in the Yellowstone Lake area. This museum was built with the same funding as the Norris Museum, and the exhibits focus on lake ecology. I had already been to this museum to fix the bird exhibits (see post from June 12). Colleen explained that this museum looks almost exactly as it did when it was built, with the same exhibits and same cases. 

Fishing Bridge Museum

Exhibits in Fishing Bridge Museum

From Fishing Bridge, we went to the Lake Hotel, the oldest hotel in the park. After having lunch in the dining room (which was awesome!) Colleen described the history of the hotel and its changes over the years. She showed us historic photos and also showed us how they use the scanner to inventory the furniture with the embedded computer chips, which was really interesting. Outside the hotel, Colleen pointed out a yellow bus, a historic vehicle that was tracked down after being sold, restored, and is now used as it once was - as a tour bus. The HRC has three of these yellow buses in its collection, and eight others are used by Xanterra for tours.

Lake Hotel

Sunroom of Lake Hotel

Yellow Bus

Our last stop was the Old Faithful Inn, where we learned the history of the Inn, got ice cream, and watched Old Faithful erupt. From there, we headed back to Mammoth having learned much more about the park and its history than when we started. 

Old Faithful from the deck of Old Faithful Inn

Monday, June 22, 2009

Upcoming Projects and Furniture Cataloging

First thing this morning I pulled some historic park uniforms, hats, and a saddle from storage for Colleen, the museum curator. Someone came in later in the morning to look at the objects, which belonged to their grandfather when they worked at the park early in the twentieth century. After that, I worked on rehousing for the remainder of the morning and into the afternoon. 

Around lunchtime, Bridgette and I discussed some upcoming cataloging work I will be doing on some ethnographic materials. The objects I will be cataloging were used by Native Americans in ceremonies related to the buffalo management strategy and recent wolf integration, both of which have been very controversial. In order to catalog these materials, I will need to research these issues in detail in order to give them context in the database. Luckily, the HRC has a large binder full of information, documentation, and articles related to these events and ceremonies. However, ethnographic materials often come with stipulations - some objects cannot be handled by women and others can not be associated with certain colors to give two examples. Part of my research will include figuring out whether I am able to handle these objects at all, as the museum takes its responsibility to respect Native traditions very seriously. I am looking forward to researching and learning more about these objects and these ceremonies to the extent that I will be allowed to do so. 

In the afternoon, I worked on cataloging some historic hotel furniture. First, I cataloged a bench from the Old Faithful Inn. Housing this piece was easy because it was already where it belonged in storage, so all I needed to do was tag it with the catalog number. I had trouble figuring out when this bench was made, but Bridgette was able to help me figure that out. These benches are still used in Old Faithful on the observation deck, where visitors sit to watch Old Faithful Geyser erupt. 

Old Faithful Inn bench

After cataloging the Old Faithful bench, I cataloged a bench from the Canyon Hotel, which no longer stands after burning down in the late 1950's. The enormous hotel was slated to be demolished because it was sliding down a hill, but it mysteriously burned down before that could happen. This bench was donated as part of the Davis collection, a huge 3/4 purchase and 1/4 donation of historic Yellowstone objects. The purchase was made possible by the Yellowstone Association and the remainder of the objects in the collection were donated by the Davis family. 

According to the object paperwork, this bench was used in the Canyon Hotel in the mid-1930's. Bridgette showed me a great way to research the dates furniture was used in the park hotels over the years: the museum has scanned photographs of the interiors of the hotels over the years. By looking through the scanned pictures, the museum has been able to date much of their historic furniture collection. 

Canyon Hotel Bench

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rehousing all day

This morning, I worked on rehousing a bunch of small objects. I learned a lot from rehousing three souvenir makeup compacts. One of the compacts still had a powder puff inside, which was filthy from powder. I used a vacuum to suck up excess powder from inside the compact while I gently loosened the powder with a brush. I removed the powder puff from the inside and housed it in a small ziploc baggie, into which I placed a piece of acid free paper with the catalog number. 

Another one of the compacts had a small compartment that still contained what appeared to be either bright red lipstick or rouge. Bridgette and I weighed the pros and cons of leaving the makeup or removing it from the compact. Pros of leaving the makeup: it makes the compact more interesting and it doesn't seem to be damaging the compact (yet). Disadvantage of leaving the makeup: it could damage the metal in the compact. 

The compact with the makeup inside

Bridgette suggested I consult Colleen, the curator, about what to do. She said I should remove the makeup by scraping the bulk of it with a special tool and then rubbing the rest out with a q-tip. This suggestion worked really well, and soon the makeup was removed. As I removed the makeup, I discovered writing underneath, which read "For a refill, send 25 cents to Elmira, 2355 Fifth Ave., New York City." We all thought that was a pretty interesting discovery. 

The newly clean compact

The writing underneath the makeup

I rehoused the cleaned compacts in a custom made rectangular box lined with a thin sheet of ethafoam. Into another sheet of ethafoam, I cut out the shapes of the compacts so they would not shift when storage drawers open and close. 

The newly housed compacts

I was also given several pieces of silver to rehouse. Because they were very tarnished, I decided to house them in special bags that prevent further tarnishing. I knew that we have several pieces of silver in the collection which would be well served by these special bags. I decided to rehouse them all into Hollinger boxes in upright shelving, a better location for them once they were in the bags. The regular storage areas are visual storage - the bags prevent the objects from being seen, so placing them in upright storage is a better use of the space. I made a floating tray for a Hollinger box and began housing the silver in the special bags. I tied a tag around each bag with the catalog number on it so that the bags would not need to be opened to identify each object. I placed the bigger pieces on the bottom of the box and the smaller ones in the floating tray. I still need to pull a lot of pieces from storage and rehouse them in this way, but the following pictures show what I have done so far:

Some of the tarnished silver I rehoused

The bottom of the box holding larger objects

The floating tray holding smaller pieces

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Glass Rehousing (Continued)

Erica and I spent almost the entire day finishing the glass rehousing project we started yesterday. We made trays with handles to fit inside of Hollinger boxes. We set one tray at the bottom of each Hollinger box and then made "legs" out of blue board so that a second tray could float over the one on the bottom. To make the legs, we cut two identical rectangular pieces of blue board, folded them, and glued the folded sections onto the bottom of the tray. The legs slide into the area between the bottom tray and the Hollinger box and hold the second tray in place. 

Whenever possible, we reused the trays that had already been made for the glass we were rehousing. Sometimes, though, the boxes were inadequate and we had to redo them. Here is an example of one of the six boxes we made. This one housed smaller objects. 

Bottom tray of one box

Top tray of the box

Notice the lovely floating tray!

Below is an example from another box. This one housed larger glass bottles that were too tall to stand upright as they ideally should have. We wrapped them carefully in acid free tissue and placed them in the top and bottom trays of the box. We labeled the tissue with the catalog number for each bottle so they will not have to be opened to identify each bottle. For this and every other box, we listed the catalog numbers of the objects inside on the outside of each Hollinger box.

Four of the six boxes we made to rehouse glass bottles (and a few ceramics)

We decided not to pack a few of the objects we initially pulled for rehousing into the Hollinger boxes because they were more visually interesting than the plain glass bottles were were packing away. I was especially happy with my rehousing of these three Yellowstone Whiskey bottles that had previously been housed separately. I made this box to house them together and display their labels. I supported each bottle with ethafoam blocks on the sides and under the necks and attached catalog numbers to the ethafoam blocks so the bottles would not need to be handled to be identified. 

As we rehoused the glass, we photographed everything because none of the pieces had photographs in ANCS+. After we finished the housing, we changed the location in the database, uploaded the photos, and put the boxes into upright shelving. This rehousing project, along with the spoon rehousing on Monday, has opened up a significant amount of space for the objects we will be cataloging and rehousing all summer. It has also made me really appreciate the value of doing things right the first time so that people will not have to go back in a few years and rehouse objects I have cataloged! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Glass Rehousing

This morning, Erica and I started a new rehousing project – this time, we rehoused several dozen glass bottles and other glass objects that were taking up a lot of space in the drawers. Just as rehousing the spoons yesterday opened up a lot of space, rehousing these glass objects today will provide us with several drawers of space to rehouse objects this summer.

Glass objects were taking up an inordinate amount of room in the storage area and are scattered rather than housed together. With Bridgette's help, we decided to rehouse them into Hollinger boxes in the upright shelving area. In this area, objects are carefully packed into Hollinger boxes, which are stored on shelves.  Bridgette made us a list of glass objects in the general storage area that needed rehousing into Hollinger boxes. We began by pulling the objects from the list onto carts, which we brought down to the work area. We looked up the bottles in ANCS+ and saw that none of them had photographs, so we added that to our rehousing assignment.

One of two carts of glass bottles we rehoused

Some of the bottles in their original cases. We were able to reuse many of these housings, but some had to be redone because they posed danger to the objects. 

In the afternoon, everyone from the Heritage and Research Center had to go up to Mammoth for mandatory radio training, a two-hour class where we learned how to use the park’s radios. For my job, I will likely never need to use a park radio, but it was interesting to learn how the radio system in the park works and how the radios work. After the radio training, the HRC interns all attended a seminar by John Vucetich, head of an ongoing study about the predator-prey relationship between wolves and moose in Isle Royale National Park in Michigan.  

The lecture discussed the changing perceptions in the last fifty years about the predator-prey relationship between wolves and moose at Isle Royale National Park. At first, the relationship seemed to be top-down – that is, wolves were the dominant predators and moose the prey in the relationship. However, fifty plus years of research has proven that disease among wolves, climate change, fluctuations in availability of certain moss that moose rely on for food, and the population of ticks on the island all play important roles in the predator-prey relationship. For example, ticks are currently thriving at Grand Isle, and are preying largely on moose, therefore weakening them and making them easy targets for wolves.

After the lecture, we returned to the HRC and worked on the glass bottle rehousing for the last hour of work. With such a big break in the middle of the day, we didn’t get as much done as we would have liked, and will have a lot more to do tomorrow before we are finished with this project.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spoon Rehousing

Erica and I worked on rehousing several dozen decorative spoons that had been stored in a number of separate drawers. A new drawer had recently been dedicated to spoon housing, and we were responsible for moving the rest of the spoons into the newly dedicated spoon drawer to open up more space to put away objects we will be cataloging and rehousing throughout the summer. This would have been relatively easy if the spoons had been labeled clearly when they were originally cataloged. However, many of the labels were illegible so we had to either decipher them and re-label them appropriately. 

Deciphering the catalog numbers was a matter of trail and error in ANCS+, filling in the numbers around the legible numbers on the unreadable spoons until the correct object came up on the screen. Thankfully, the spoons had been photographed when they were originally catalogued, so we were able to match photos with the objects we were looking up. This exercise made me really appreciate all the object photos we have been taking as we catalog. Without them in this instance it would have been incredibly difficult to uncover the catalog numbers for these spoons. 

We finished the spoon rehousing project in the early afternoon. Afterwards, I worked on cataloging objects from my shelf of items to be cataloged. One interesting object I worked on was a wooden pipe with a carved buffalo attached to the top of it. I think the buffalo shaped area served some function, but I can’t say for sure. I housed the flute on a flat piece of blue board, poked holes in the board on either side of the flute in three places, threaded twill tape through the holes, and tied the flute onto the board with the tape. I also glued blocks of ethafoam to the blue board to secure the two ends of the flute and made handles for the blue board out of cotton tape to make it easy to pick up the tray.

Flute housing

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Working in the Park

Today Erica and I went with Allie and Carolyn, the museum technicians, to do some work inside the park. First, we went to West Yellowstone to meet a courier at the visitor center and pick up one of Thomas Moran's journals that had been sent out for conservation. Moran accompanied the Hayden expedition and painted pictures of the Yellowstone area, which were used to convince Congress to establish Yellowstone as the first national park in the world. The HRC has twenty one of Moran's watercolor field sketches - a vital piece of Yellowstone history.

We left West Yellowstone and headed to the Fishing Bridge visitor center, where we corrected some small mistakes in the taxidermied bird exhibit. We removed the glass pieces in the front of the two cases that needed fixing and moved a couple of labels and specimens to their correct locations and then replaced the glass to front of the cases. This exhibit is a prime example of hazardous museum collections, as these birds were taxidermied with dangerous chemicals, including arsenic. When we opened the case, the smell was very strong, and it made me a little nervous. Luckily, we finished our work quickly and probably weren't exposed to too much of the chemical.

One of the cases we modified

The other case we modified

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hitting the Ground Running

After two days of training, today Bridgette set us loose to work on cataloging and rehousing on our own. In the storage area, each of the museum technicians are assigned two shelves. One shelf contains objects for cataloging and the other contains objects for rehousing. Bridgette keeps the shelves stocked with objects to work on. Today, I worked on objects from my cataloging shelf and made a pretty good dent in what was there. Here is a sample of some of the objects I worked on and how I housed them:

Circa 1920 Haynes souvenir playing cards, which each feature individual photos of the park. The Haynes family is a Yellowstone legacy who published thousands of photographic postcards and prints during the early years of the park. I housed these cards in an acid free box, which I lined with ethafoam. I placed ethafoam blocks at each end to keep the cards from moving when its storage drawer is opened and closed. 

This is a stack of 50 identical Yellowstone Park Hotels stickers. The photo of the bear in the center was taken by one of the Haynes family members. The bear was rummaging in one of the many garbage dumps that were scattered across the park in the late 19th century. Bleachers were erected at many of the dumps for park visitors to get close up views of bears, who would arrive at the dumps every evening for dinner. These dumps (and other early park management practices) made many Yellowstone bears reliant on this human food source instead of hunting and gathering their own food as nature intended. 

This insignia was used by many Yellowstone companies over the years, including the Yellowstone Park Company (YPCo.), Yellowstone Park Hotel Company (YPHCo.), and Yellowstone Park Transportation Company (YPTCo.). When cataloging items with this insignia, it can get rather confusing to date these objects, as each of these companies were constantly changing their name and many used the insignia at the same time. Luckily, this one reads "Yellowstone Park Hotels" so I was able to determine a date range of 1906 - 1936 for these stickers. 

I housed these stickers in a custom made blue board box lined with thin ethafoam. I secured the stickers in a stack (as they were made) with loosely tied acid-free twill tape and stored them in a drawer with like objects. 

Here are two examples of stickers that I housed in acid-free mylar sheets for protection. I stored them in an archival box with other historic park stickers. I wrote the catalog number in pencil on the back of each sticker and also slid a section of acid-free paper into each sheet that also contains the catalog number. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Second Day of Training

Today, our collections management training continued with an early morning lesson on cavity packing, which is used to protect objects that need extra support. Cavity packing entails creating a space within ethafoam that fits the object snugly. We use a special tool that melts the ethafoam and allows us to dig pieces out in the shape we need. 

After the lesson on cavity packing, all of the new seasonal staff members shadowed a tour of the museum, library, and archive areas of the HRC. Later this summer, we will be responsible for the museum section of the tours, which take place on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and last from 45 minutes to an hour.

After the tour, Bridgette showed us how to upload object photos into the appropriate catalog files in the ANCS+ database.  When we catalogue/rehouse objects we will be uploading photos of them into the database.  These photos will help when staff is searching for objects, as this is primarily a research facility – a photo will save valuable time if the object is not what the researcher is looking for. Photos also serve as valuable visual records of objects in the collection.

In the afternoon, I cataloged, photographed, and rehoused several objects, including a teacup and saucer, dinner plate, and small platter. 

Monday, June 8, 2009

Collections Management Training

All day Monday, the museum interns trained with Bridgette, the museum registrar. The first part of the training consisted of an in-depth tour of the HRC museum storage area, during which we learned how to navigate the collections area, open different types of locking cabinets, and find specific objects in storage. After the training, we did a storage area scavenger hunt. The museum keeps objects in several different kinds of storage cabinets, including shelfs, drawers, pull down doors, and more. We were given a list of object locations and we had to figure out which cabinet, drawer, shelf, box, etc. the objects listed were located at. The scavenger hunt was helpful, because it allowed us to find things on our own, and I always learn the best by doing.

After the scavenger hunt, Bridgette gave us an overview of proper object handling techniques, which made me realize just how much I learned in Dixie’s registration class. I was pleased that I already knew everything she told us. Even so, it was great to have a review before handling objects myself.

After the object handling review, we moved on to a box building lesson, in which Bridgette taught us the basics of building storage boxes out of archival quality materials, including blue board, ethafoam, and acid free hot glue. The museum has several shapes and sizes of pre-made acid free storage boxes, so we learned how to determine when to make a storage box or container and when to use one that is pre-assembled. Basically, we learned to keep things simple and use a pre-made box whenever the objects will fit in them without too much excess space. Space is at a premium in the HRC storage area, so conserving space for growth of the collection is extremely important. When pre-made storage boxes are too big or too small for objects, it is best to make a box from scratch using by cutting blue board with a razor, hot gluing it together, and creating custom padding with ethafoam and other acid-free materials. During this lesson, I also learned different ways to mark objects with their catalog number in a way that is both safe for the object and inconspicuous.

After the lesson, we got to put our new knowledge to the test by making boxes to store objects in need of rehousing. I made a container for a set of syrup pitchers with depictions of Old Faithful on the front. I made a long, rectangular box that separates the two pitchers with blocks of ethafoam glued to the inside the box. After gluing the box together, I lined it with ethafoam and then glued in ethafoam blocks to separate and protect them. It is best to keep similar objects or pieces of sets together, and this box accomplished that.

One of the syrup pitchers I made housing for

The housing for the syrup pitchers 
(it may not be beautiful, but this was the first time I have done this!)

The syrup pitchers resting safely in their new housing

After lunch, Bridgette trained us on the ANCS+ database, the NPS wide collections management software. In the database, we have to enter lots of information, including object descriptions, condition reports, measurements, materials, time period, accession number, catalog number, housing location, and more. After watching Bridgette show us how to enter objects into the database on a projector, we returned to our desks for hands on use of the program, where we had the opportunity to enter new accessions into ANCS+, make boxes for them, label them with clear varnish and acid free pens, and photograph them (these photos will be linked to the objects in ANCS+). The object I worked on was a 1950’s era souvenir – a small leather case with three dice inside that is engraved with “Yellowstone Park”.

The dominos and case

New housing for dominos 
I separated the dominos from their case because early plastics like the ones the dominos are made of were made of unstable materials which may damage the leather case over time.

Today, we also learned about re-housing (this will be one of our big projects for the summer. There is a large backlog of objects that are already accessioned and cataloged but have not yet been put in containers or been put into museum storage. Our responsibility will be to make custom storage containers, find and place them in appropriate storage locations, and update the object locations in ANCS+. We will also be housing and cataloging newly accessioned objects and entering them into ANCS+, which includes creating photographic records (and linking them to ANCS+), making custom storage containers for them, marking them with their catalog numbers, and putting them into appropriate storage locations.