Wednesday, July 16, 2014

More adventures in cataloging

Pageant banner on the wall behind Chief Welsh's headdress.
Thirty-three pageant banners. Count 'em. Thirty-three. I promise the intern that once we start opening boxes from up in the attic we'll find "good stuff." What do we find? Thirty-three 1969 Baraga County Historical Pageant banners and a stash of really nasty and obviously really cheap black wigs. Lots and lots of flies and beetles had chosen to crawl into that stash of wigs to die.

Oh, and one priest's collar that was probably part of a costume from that pageant. Is it the one surviving "costume" from that pageant? Who knows. We have a lot of boxes left to go.

The wigs, incidentally, got classified as trash pretty fast. There's nothing quite like a zillion dead lady bugs to convince a person something isn't worth dealing with. The Intern and I could shake the bug cadavers out of the banners; we weren't going to try picking them out of fake human hair.

The big mystery for me, though, is why this stuff was right up in front in the attic. I would have expected them to be buried in the back. The position of the boxes suggest they were among the last things to get stashed up there -- so where did they come from? The historical society sponsored the pageant 45 years ago. The pageant material obviously went into storage somewhere, but not at the museum. The museum building is barely 22 years old; construction began in 1992 and it opened to the public in 1993. Had the pageant material been stashed with other historical society material at the Visitor Information building in L'Anse back in 1993, one assumes that any boxes or crates stored in closets and attics would have gotten moved at the same time as the exhibits. Apparently that didn't happen. Either that, or the pageant material was never at the visitor center. So where was it? Just who cleaned out an attic or a garage sometime in the past 20 years and found those boxes?

It's a mystery. Like so many other things relating to the history of the museum, I'll probably never know. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that these 33 banners are it, that no more are lurking in other boxes. It's nice to have a few spares stashed just in case the one on display in the museum develops dry rot, but thirty three is a bit of overkill. (Note: exhibit area no longer looks exactly like what's shown in the photo, but the banner hasn't moved.)

And, for what it's worth, this was one set of objects that went into PastPerfect under just one object number. There was no way I felt like individually cataloging each banner. They're all in the same container. If I could batch list headstones when I inventoried them for the Park Service, it must be okay to group objects now at a small local museum, especially when they're basically identical except for where the fold marks fall on the individual banners.

Now all I have to do is convince the intern that the next set of boxes will be more fun.

1 comment:

BBC said...

I guess someone has to do it.