Every museum with a collection has materials identified as “found in collection,” AKA objects that have been disassociated from their records, numbers, or other identifying information. Perhaps they were once familiar to former staff, but with turnover, the institutional memory is lost. These objects are often set aside to be researched and reconciled “as time allows.” But when one of these found in collection items catches someone’s attention, the story emerges. In this post, Collections Intern Sayyara Huseynli explores one of these “mystery” objects.
Women have always been the guiding force behind the Museum’s collection. They have shaped it as curators, educators, trustees, and donors. However, when it comes to this last group, many of those women are overshadowed by “his”tory. With the wonders of the internet (and a little digging), we can reveal the rich “her”story of the Museum’s collection donors.
The United States Postal Service has certainly been making headlines lately. Between the ongoing pandemic and the upcoming election, the mail is having a moment. This got me thinking about a unique mail-related item that was accessioned this time last year.
If you have been furiously binging Netflix shows during the quarantine like I have, you may have come across the Korean historical zombie-thriller Kingdom. The show is set in the late 1500s during Korea’s Joseon (조선) period, which lasted from 1392 – 1910. One of the most distinctive parts of the show is the variety of hats, a constant halo around the head of almost every male on the show. Seeing the unique, conical top hats on screen immediately transported me back to the Museum’s collection storage room, where I had spent hours inventorying the Korean collection. It was in one of the drawers that I came across several of the Museum’s own Korean top hats.
The Collections and Archives team may be working remotely these days, but collections care doesn’t stop for a pandemic. Caring for and preserving the diverse array of historical materials at the Museum is a big job and an ongoing task as part of the Museum’s stewardship responsibilities. To help in these efforts, we recruited our team mascot, Hans, to share some of these tasks and explain why they are a priority in our work. Our staff is helping to oversee Hans’s work from afar…
In August of 1918, the first cases of the Spanish flu hit Boston. The Globe reported last week in an interview with Jared Rhoades that museums and schools closed that same month. “They closed the MFA, the Boston Public Library, schools, bars, barber shops, theaters,” Rhoads, the debate program director at the Coolidge Foundation, said. “You name it, it was closed down.”
Boston Children’s Museum, however, remained open.
All objects have stories: of their origin, where they have been, and what they mean to people. Objects can remind us of happier times. They can bring back memories of vacations, loved ones, and home.
Boston Children’s Museum has a collection of late-nineteenth century scrapbooks that range in size, shape, and genre. The scrapbooks have brittle paper, many small parts, and many parts glued in. This can make them difficult to use in the Museum in programs or exhibits, so we worked with professionals at Digital Commonwealth and Simmons University to digitize them so they can be shared and experienced online.