Saturday, June 17, 2017

Holy wah, I've got my life back

I was puttering around the museum yesterday, doing some shuffling of boxes out in the storage building, and it hit me: it's over, the giant albatross that was the heritage grant headache is actually gone. Oh, there's some minor stuff left to do, like tweaking the exhibit and doing a final edit on the documents going down to Lansing, but basically it's over. I'll do final edits tomorrow, after stuff has sat long enough that I might be able to spot the typos when I look at it one last time, and then into the Drop Box it goes. . . and if I'm lucky, I'll never have to think about it again.

In any case, the simple fact I was out in the storage building shuffling boxes instead of being glued to the computer meant we were done. I had time to spare for mundane stuff, like trying to figure out exactly why there are several disintegrating 19th century Catholic Vulgate Bibles that have (a) no family names in them; (b) appear to have missing pages because the bindings are totally shot; and (c). . . I have no (c). I just know that when I looked at those Bibles I had two thoughts: How well would they burn? and Is there a market on Ebay for the prints in one of them? The Bible itself might be falling apart, but some of the pages are in great shape and the illustrations are quite good. I'll have to do some research on Etsy and Ebay to see if there is indeed a market for that sort of print.

I know there is a strong market for old maps, so maybe if nothing else we could manage to sell the nicely colored map of Palestine that's in the front of the book. This is an oversized Bibles, one of those  huge honking ones that were several inches thick and weighed enough to be hernia-inducing, so it is a reasonably large map, probably somewhere around 11 x 17.

As for why I thought immediately of burning them, that's the fate most of the paper trash that comes out of the storage building or museum. We've got limited space so if something isn't relevant to our mission (preserving Baraga County's history and heritage), is an unnecessary duplication (we really don't need 17 photocopies of the same article), or is in too bad shape to sell if it's flammable it tends to end up on a burn pile. If the tattered Bibles had family names in them, they'd get catalogued because then there would be that local connection. Anonymous, however, they're meaningless.

And, speaking of Bibles, I am now reminded that one of these years it would be nice for the museum to do an exhibit on the county's churches. That could be a neat exhibit: photos of both exteriors and interiors, photos of congregations and confirmation classes, objects like hymnals and psalters in various languages, baptismal and marriage certificates. . . . We do actually have some really great Bibles to include, like an amazing Swedish family Bible published around 1900 that has drop dead gorgeous color plates and is in close to mint condition. I'll have to toss the idea out to the membership one of these days. That could be this coming winter's project. It would also be a nifty excuse to go cruising around the county taking photographs of the various churches as they look now, including the ones that have been converted to other uses. Definitely something to think about. . .


  1. Your museum posts are interesting; it must be a real challenge to preserve a community's history through donated objects. Deciding what to keep and what to pitch, given limited space requires firm resolve.

    1. The hardest part is smiling politely and acting happy when someone shows up with a pile of the chipped and broken stuff that didn't sell at the estate sale. We never say No to donations because all it takes is one No and word will go around that we've stopped accepting stuff, but, jeez, we get to wade through a lot of manure in the hopes of finding a pony. If it's old and worthless, way too many people figure it's a museum object. My personal pet peeve is the folks who bring in granddad's WWII uniform after they've stipped off all the insignia, the brass, and the buttons. Wow, thanks for the heavy duty cleaning rags because that's about all those uniforms are now good for.

      The guy who's our military history expert told me a horror story about a WWII vet he knew who had promised all his memorabilia to the museum. The old dude had an amazing collection of souvenirs he'd picked up in Europe. He dies, Roy goes to talk with the widow, and she's really eager to give him a suitcase. Opens the suitcase and the only thing in it is old newspapers from the 1940s. He asks about the actual collection and gets told, "That junk? I threw it all away. I just saved the good stuff."


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