Tag Archives: Preservation


Actually From XKCD (#1598)

In honor of the 104th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, which is this Thursday, April 14th.



Hey, It Could Be Worse

image.wrecking.ball.005 - Copy

Fear not, it has nothing to do with Miley Cyrus.

The current restoration of Chartres Cathedral is in the news again.

Fortunately, not for this.





Verse on Williamsburg’s Founding

Curator’s Comment: During the 1920s and 30s it seemed to many that Colonial Williamsburg took over the town, razing over 720 post-1790s buildings and displacing local residents in order to preserve history for everyone. In honor of the Restoration John Arthur Hundley published the poem below in the Virginia Gazette on September 6th, 1935.

DUke of Gloucester Street Before the Restoration. Source.

Duke of Gloucester Street Before the Restoration. Source.


My God! They’ve sold the town,
The streets will all come up,
The poles will all come down.
They’ve sold the Church, the vestry too,
The Sexton and the steeple;
They’ve sold the Court House and the Greens,
They’ve even sold the people.
And you will hear from miles around
From people poor and of renown
My God! They’ve sold the town.

Quoted in Creating Colonial Williamsburg, Anders Greenspan, 22.

Your Image Doesn’t Match Your Image, or Random Thoughts We Have While Browsing Catalogues

Today we wouldn’t let a smoker’s unwashed fingers near archival collections, much less those fingers AND a lit cigarette. So it makes perfect sense that Hollinger Metal Edge (the “Quality Leader In Archival Products”) chose this picture of their founder William Hollinger:

I only use acid-free rolling papers.

Based solely on their visuals, one would have to question their position as “quality leader.” We would think another picture might be better, but perhaps it’s the only image they have of him. Perhaps those aren’t archivally sensitive materials on the desk. Perhaps he thought nicotine was a preservative.

Despite the contrasts, the company will probably stick with this picture. They can’t snap a new one because Hollinger is dead. Dead and buried in a lignin-free coffin.

Professor Connolly’s Lecture On Historical Perceptions

Curator’s Comment: We think Professor Connolly is confused. There are no 200-year-old buildings left in Chicago. Still, we feel his truth rises above fact.

William Connolly, professor of stand-up history.

I was walking through Chicago recently when I came across a woman standin’ there on the sidewalk with her hands on the side of a building. I said to her “Ma’am, why are ye holdin’ on to that buildin’…. are ye OK?” She replied to me “This building is over 200 years old!! Can you imagine all the history this building has seen? I’m just tryin’ to absorb some of it!” So I said to her, “I come from a town in Scotland where they still refer to the ‘new bridge’. They’ve been callin’ it that since they built it….. IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY!


Foot-Candle, n. 1.

2. A unit of measure which allows a conservator to determine a museum’s preservation failures.

Museum Musings: What Could Explode?

Others have blogged before about the importance of factoring future catastrophic changes into long term museum planning and risk assessment. As if we didn’t already have too much to do. A recent Center for the Future of Museums blog post prompted me to use this post to remind you to spend a little brain power thinking about future risks to your planet, too.

Noted historian Dave Barry stated that the highlights of the Millard Fillmore administration were “the Earth did not crash into the sun.”1 Unfortunately, President Fillmore’s daring protectionist policies may not always be here to save us. As you can see in the non-interactive video below there is a very real danger of solar incineration.

Disheartening news, particularly for those of us charged with preserving historic collections, buildings, and sites. We tell people we preserve these things forever, but nature has a way of laughing at us. This raises several questions for us: Does your community face hard choices about how it will adapt? Can you play a role in fostering discussions?

It is highly likely that this question is pertinent to you. One hundred percent of the Earth’s population lives within the solar system. The distribution of museums in the solar system is equal to the population distribution.

Since museum professionals are already too task-saturated to spend time thinking about such imminent catastrophes as global warming, the five billion years until our sun swells should be just enough time for us to start thinking about an emergency preservation plan.

And after you’ve primed your futures-thinking pump, so to speak, make time to get together with staff, community members and other stakeholders to ask “what might things be like in our community in five billion years? And is there anything we might do now, like terraforming other planets, to make that a better (and less firey) future?

1 Dave Barry. Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort Of History Of the United States. 71.

Historic Preservationists Meme


Conservator, n. A preservation professional who has two jobs: first, to advise museums to keep artifacts away from deleterious influences such as water, cold, heat, particulates, humidity, movement, chemicals, pests, air, light, and visitors; secondly, to serve as an artifact’s mortician when their advice goes unheeded.

Demolition of the Cathedral at Chartres

Actually By Steve Martin

Mr. Rivers was raised in the city of New York, had become involved in construction and slowly advanced himself to the level of crane operator for a demolition company. The firm had grown enormously, and he was shipped off to France for a special job. He started work early one Friday and, due to a poorly drawn map, at six-thirty one morning in February began the demolition of the Cathedral at Chartres.

The first swing of the ball knifed an arc so deadly that it tore down nearly a third of a wall and the glass shattered almost in tones, and it seemed to scream over the noise of the engine as the fuel was pumped in the long neck of the crane that threw the ball through a window of the Cathedral at Chartres.

The aftermath was complex and chaotic, and Rivers was allowed to go home to New York, and he opened up books on the Cathedral and read about it and thought to himself how lucky he was to have seen it before it was destroyed.

From Cruel Shoes, 19-20.

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