As we all look toward what 2021 will bring, I am reminded of a new year’s eve toast made by one of my favorite TV characters; Sherman T. Potter of M*A*S*H*. While the quote has nothing to do with museums I thought I’d share it none the less; “Here’s to the New Year. May she be a [darn] sight better than the old one” I think the sentiment of this quote is on everyone’s mind as we celebrate this year in lockdown. However, as a very hard headed believer that the glass is half full if you only look at it from the right angle, I am determined to believe that 2021 will end in higher spirits than 2020.
Now while Covid-fatigue has returned right in time for the holidays, I am still jazzed to get to continue working for the museum over the winter. For the time being by work station is being moved from the museum to my home, where my new co-workers are a goofy 2 year old pup named Maggie who does not necessarily respect personal space in the office, and a ridiculously photogenic little gecko name Cheeko. Having never worked from home, I am going to be frantically Googling tips for remaining focused, but I am looking forward to giving it a go.
However, bringing it back to the museum I am excited to say I am coming down to the last dozen or so artifacts in the furniture inventory, and because I’m a little astounded by the number I’m going to put it here: as of late December, 188 artifacts have been identified, located, photographed, and their condition’s assessed. This collection has included a diversity of artifacts from settees, to washing machines, to tea trolleys, and as of right now has included a whopping 49 chairs, and 13 desks. I have learned what melodeons, dough troughs, and mortisers look like, as well as a variety of other pieces of furniture. This project has included getting to learn not only a significant amount about the community but also about the museum itself. I found a group of chairs that were used in the reading room when the it was located in the upstairs, now office portion of the museum. I hadn’t visited the museum and archives before it was renovated and the new section built, so this was a really interesting glimpse into what the building used to look like.
This project has not been without its frustrations though. I remember I came across about 10 artifacts in a row, one week, which had no numbers on them, possibly because they were once on exhibit or for other reasons. When I come across an artifact without an associated number it’s time to don my detective cap and go to work; meaning it’s time to search the database for a description that would fit the artifact. Sometimes this only requires me to search a very specific key word and read through maybe a dozen records, however sometimes there are no specific features to search so I need to read through every, record that is associated with the term chair, for example, and believe me there are a lot. All frustrations in mind, I couldn’t think of a job I’d rather be doing! It has been a fantastic experience to get to know a collections so closely, and boy have I gotten good at identifying esoteric pieces of furniture, a skill I am certain will serve me well as my career moves forward.
To everyone, may 2021 bring you a glass that is more than half full.