Posted on June 10th, 2013 by Rachel
Although the AAM conference didn’t officially begin until Sunday, 35 collections care professionals and conservators gathered together in Baltimore on Saturday morning for a pre-conference workshop: The Reinforcement Crew.
Now in its 7th year, the Reinforcement Crew is the brain child of Heather Kajic (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC) and Mark Ryan (Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND) and is a sub-committee of the AAM Registrar’s Committee. While discussing a session proposal for the 2007 AAM Annual Meeting about the various “helping hands” projects conducted at the regional level, Heather and Mark decided to take it one step further and planned a day-long service project.
This is the 6th time Libby Krecek from Omaha, Nebraska has volunteered with the Reinforcement Crew. Look at that fabulous feather hat!
The goal is for collection professionals from around the country to volunteer their time and expertise to assist smaller museums and cultural institutions with collections-based projects that they couldn’t otherwise do on their own.
The Reinforcement Crew is an excellent way for Museum Studies students to get hands-on experience and supervision before beginning their professional careers.
In Baltimore Reinforcement Crew dispersed to 4 different sites for a day-long hands-on collections project at the Evergreen House on the Johns Hopkins University Campus, James E. Lewis Museum of Art at Morgan State University, the Lillie Carroll Jackson House (currently housed at the JELMA), and the Fells Point Preservation Society. We could see the impact of our work immediately.
With guidance from a Washington Conservation Guild volunteer, a Morgan State student constructs a box to house a dress.
For example, my group of 12–which included museum studies students, a museum board member and volunteer, and a photographer from the Washington Conservation Guild—began an inventory of artifacts from the Lillie Carroll Jackson House, including brief condition reports and photographs. Lillie Carroll Jackson started the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP –and had a wonderful sense of style!
After I untangled the beaded necklace, earrings, and a watch, they were housed in separate bags.
We worked for 5 hours, contributing 60 man-hours of labor! We inventoried over 150 objects, but more importantly we did what amounts to 1.5 weeks of pure, concentrated collections work, which is nearly impossible to complete when you are working by yourself. I think many of us would have loved the opportunity to stay another day (or two or three) to finish the inventory!
The inscription on the back of this photograph appears to read, “To Mrs. Lillie May Jackson With all fond wishes to a distinguished citizen of Baltimore. Theodore McKeldin. Mayor, March 3, 1945.
According to James E. Lewis Museum of Art registrar (and former JMM intern) Nicole Paterson, “Months of work was done in just one day.” Ten members of the Washington Conservation Guild and other Reinforcement Crew volunteers unframed and housed 100 works of art for the JELMA.
Lillie Carroll Jackson seemed equally fond of Mayor McKeldin. I love the details of his office in this souvenir.
The Reinforcement Crew (and the regional groups White Gloves Gang, WCG Angels, and Helping Hands Brigade), is extremely successful because the participants know they are truly helping out their colleagues. Many of the participants are familiar with one another through the Registrar’s Committee List-Serve, but the camaraderie is built while working together. It is also a wonderful opportunity to network, explore another museum’s collection, share knowledge, and learn something new. All of the participants in the Reinforcement Crew are all volunteers. In fact, they often come at their own expense! Talk about dedication!!
Nikola Astles from the University of Vermont Museums, worked on Lillie Carroll Jackson’s shoes, which included a set of spurs!
The success of the Reinforcement Crew not only depends upon the voluntary time of museum professionals but also the generosity of vendors in the industry. The 2013 Reinforcement crew was sponsored by Terry Dowd Inc., Transport Consultants International (TCI), Materials & Methods and Bonsai Fine Arts. In addition to providing the necessary supplies, and refreshing libations, the sponsors also pitched in for the volunteer event.
Reinforcement Crew sponsor TCI proudly displays their certificate of recognition from the Registrar’s Committee at their booth in the Expo Hall.
At the end of the afternoon, the Crew gathered together for a reception at the Fells Point Preservation Society. We enjoyed some local treats including Utz Crab Chips and Berger cookies, tested the libations from several area breweries, and heard the praises of thanks from our host institutions.
Sebastian Encina from the University of Michigan Museum worked at the Evergreen House before he enjoyed a beer and watched the Preakness Stakes.
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A blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink. Jobi is also the Museum’s Registrar and Intern Wrangler. Click here to read other posts by Jobi!
Posted on October 24th, 2011 by Rachel
A blog post by Jen Swisko, Fire Museum of Maryland.
On Wednesday October 12, 2011 the White Gloves Gang once again visited the Fells Point Preservation Society (FPPS) at1726 Thames Street,Baltimore. No stranger to the FPPS, the Gang made its first visit back in 2005. For a moment now let us go back in time to when Destiny’s Child was still together, Batman Begins was playing at the box office and the FPPS had just called upon the White Gloves Gang to help them move their new collection. Some might call them unrepentant hoarders, but over the course of five generations the Dashiel’s had amassed a huge collection of Americana and this move was the culmination of the efforts of Sisters Mary and Eleanor Dashiel to have their family’s items turned into a maritime museum.
The Dashiel Family Collection was immense but not exactly organized. Taking over the Sisters’ home it was a monumental undertaking to sort and move the objects. In a feat worthy of its own season of clean house the FPPS, with help from the Gang, eventually cleared the house.
We pick up our story again in August of 2011 with Hurricane Irene heading towardsBaltimore. Fearful of a storm surge a group of local students from UMBC was called out to help carry the FPPS archives out of the basement and to safety on the upper levels of the museum. Then with the storm past and the archives left in disarray the White Gloves Gang was called on to help again.
The Gang tackled two problems that day. First, the re-organization of the archives. Moving everything so that it was accessible, re-labeling the shelves and sorting the archives. By the end of the day the Gang had re-arranged the archives and created an inventory list of all of the shelves.
Chris, Jenn, Jen and Robin organizing the archives
…Meanwhile in another part of the museum the rest of the Gang was hard at work re-boxing part of the museum’s textile collections which had been damaged in their brisk move from the basement. They photographed, recorded and boxed most of the textiles, providing the FPPS with an inventory list in the process.
Heather, Motrja and Sandra
In closing the White Gloves Gang would like to express appreciation to the Fells Point Preservation Society (FPPS) for letting us play with their collections, we had a blast and hope to see you again soon!