Friday, January 30, 2009

Packing Update 1/30/2009

We're shifting into full gear here at the Collections Department as we finish up various projects and move into packing full time. My dedicated interns have been hard at work. They're finishing up the photography of the collection (so we have a visual record of our objects):
1.30.2009 - Progress
You can see our high tech photo background above. Another intern is working on creating surfaces so we can move delicate objects like this Bear mask safely.
1.30.2009 - Progress
The cedar bark used for the mane is extremely fragile and small losses occur whenever it is picked up. The board minimizes the need to handle the mask directly and keeps any lost bark with the mask. Other masks have many fragile parts which need to be stabilized as much as possible (so the vibrations during movement don't cause damage):
1.30.2009 - Progress
And in the midst of this, we're still packing. And we have the gaps in the storage to prove it!
1.30.2009 - Progress
That's the former home of about 6000 pieces of chipped stone. Now all tidily shrink wrapped and ready to head over to Dean Hall. And our box stack keeps growing and growing. (This is one of three box stacks - don't let it deceive you.)
1.30.2009 - Progress

Friday, January 23, 2009

Packing update 1/23/2009

What a week! The United States inaugurated a new President and we packed over 7000 objects.

Okay. They were chipped stone artifacts (projectile points, scrapers, flakes) and we're not exactly done packing yet.
Packing progress, 1/23/2009
In order to make the move easier on all, we'll be transporting the lithics in the drawers they are in now. Some of my intrepid interns took on the task of counting all the lithics, so that there is a current account of how many pieces are in each drawer. We'll wrap the drawers in shrink wrap to prevent any stray lithics from falling out in transport, and call it good.

We have, so far, 18 boxes (real cardboard boxes) packed with larger, heavier groundstone lithics. We're running out of places to squirrel them away, so we're beginning to stack them.
Packing progress, 1/23/2009

But my view has been less exciting:
Packing progress, 1/23/2009
I'm making sure that all the information we write on the packing sheets is entered into the database, and then the object locations are updated in the database, so that we have an accurate accounting of all of our objects, even as they are packed in boxes.

It's a pretty good running start, but we've got a lot of work to do in the weeks ahead of us.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Packing Rocks!

I will never get past that pun. Anything to do with lithics will probably be accompanied by a terrible pun. I apologize.

We've packed seven boxes so far, 83 objects. It's a start on this collection of 9000+. Six of those boxes (51 objects) are lithics, primarily groundstone tools. Borrowing a method from the National Museum of the American Indian Move Manual (which the good folks at NMAI were willing to send me), I have been packing lithics with the wave method.
Box 7
This method stops the lithics from rolling against each other during moving, and also immobilizes them without causing crushing. It's good for very stable objects like these pestles.
Box 7 closed
After a box is full, and with one layer only seeing as lithics can be quite heavy, it is taped shut and the packing list is attached. This way we can see at a glance how many objects are in the box and where it should go. The blank part of the form at the bottom will be filled out as the box is unpacked in the new space.
Boxes 5-7 in temporary storage
But in the meantime, the boxes are in temporary storage in the collections room. We'll be doing a test move of the lithics (as they are more stable in changing temperatures) in a month or so to work the bugs out of the move system prior to the full move over spring break. So until then, I'll be packing rocks!

Friday, January 9, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes

If you've been watching the news in the past few days, you've probably heard about the crazy flooding in Washington State. Thankfully, the museum collection and Dean Hall both avoided flooding. It was scary for a while, because an irrigation ditch runs through campus and it was running higher than I had ever seen it before.
High Water, 2009
High Water, 2009
They were even sandbagging around Dean Hall.

I took those photos as I left work on Tuesday afternoon, and by Wednesday morning, the water had gone down.
Lowering water
Lowering water

I guess this kind of (near) flooding is what happens when it snows for a month and then is suddenly 50 degrees F out. I know many museums on the west side of the Cascades are still in danger from overloaded rivers, and I wish them the best of luck with their situations.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year!

And we are off to a running start here at the Museum of Culture and Environment collection's department! For the next 9.5 weeks, I have the help of five fantastic interns. Between the six of us, we will pack the collection and have it moved before the end of March. Which is approaching a bit too fast for my taste...

At the moment, we're doing finishing up things before getting down to the business of packing boxes. This has included dealing with some more of our mystery objects. Objects about which I know nothing and have been unable to find documentation for. Probably my favorite undocumented mystery is this piece:
Mystery front
Mystery back

I have no clue what this is or where it came from. It's a fairly heavy piece of carved stone with a very interesting image on it. It doesn't match the description of any of the pieces we haven't found yet - there are no missing "carved stone faces." And there's always the possibility that this was a student project mixed in with the collection we have that came from a teacher's museum. But what is it really? The world may never know. Or perhaps someone out there does...