Last Fall, we wrapped up our IMLS Museums for America grant called “Strategic Stewardship for Sustaining the Archives of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology”. It allowed us to address long-term needs of the archives including critical housing and preservation issues for our most fragile materials. This included converting a collection room from general purpose storage to a dedicated Archives Collection room.
Before, it was used for storing pretty much anything: reprints, old administrative files, excess paper, party and event supplies, vacuum cleaners, even dead computers! The shelves were bolted and fixed creating cramped aisles.
We removed everything, found more appropriate storage for all the materials (don’t worry, we didn’t throw out all the CalDay supplies!) and started work.
This meant that the museum staff had to endure almost of year of boxes and storage carts in almost every conceivable place in the museum while the room was upgraded with high density shelving on rails.
We chose handsome blue endplates for our new units to break up the white of the walls, shelves and concrete floors. All archival material including many art pieces, fragile rare books, unbound field notebooks, and other historic documents are now returned to the room where we finally have everything tracked, accessioned, and cataloged in Archivist Toolkit. Not just our shelving is neat looking, take a look in one of the file boxes!
We had a special MVZ Coffee on Halloween and invited the MVZ community to tour the new Archives room. Christina also set up a special exhibit of WWII letters written by then MVZ Curator Seth Benson to various service men in the Pacific theater (1942-1945). (I’ll have to do a future post on that subject.)
Hopefully, our Archives tour left visitors with an appreciation of the hard work getting this essential MVZ collection secured and in shape as well as appreciating their value to the rest of the collections and the MVZ history. I also hope they enjoyed some of the buttons we made as a token of our appreciation for the community’s support! Here’s one of them: