Guest Post: When Small Scale Efforts Bring a BIG Reward

Posted on October 21st, 2011 by

A blog post by Heather Brown, Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation.

Jessica Ford dusting Ravenhurst

On the morning of October 12, eight volunteers arrived the Historical Society (http:///—and former almshouse (http:///—of Baltimore County to volunteer as part of the White Gloves Gang. Administrator Adam Youssi headed up the gang and started our day off with a tour of the 19th century building. It was fascinating to see the former quarters of the inmates, and the furniture and other items in the collection, but the greatest surprise of our tour was an intact nuclear fallout shelter in the basement, replete with cots, radios, and sealed tins of crackers from 1962!

Nuclear fallout shelter in the basement of the Historical Society

With the help of Collections Manager Melissa Heaver, we laid out a plan for the day, including the tasks of transcriptions, photography, and preparing a group of dollhouses for display in the exhibition Dollhouses – Then and Now, hosted by the Maryland Miniaturists Unlimited (http:///, from Oct 15th-16th.

Dollhouses awaiting their makeovers

The Historical Society’s dollhouses include replicas of the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, and Baltimore County’s historic home “Ravenhurst,” among others. Many of the dollhouses were dirty, and needed dusting and vacuuming before the furniture could be re-staged. For Ravenhurst, the furniture was neatly packaged into boxes and labeled with the appropriate room. The real magic, however, was in the photographs that showed the original layout of the décor and presented clues as to what the room should look like. Rugs were “installed” first, followed by the large (3” x 5”) furniture and the dolls. Books, chessboards, vases and other tiny accessories provided the finishing touches to the dollhouse displays. My favorite item was a lovely little photo album with a metal latch, showing pages of gelatin silver print portraits inside.

A miniature photo album

Much of the work was finished by our 2 pm deadline, but some of the volunteers continued working as my classmates and I filed into the van to head back to Wilmington. We were sad to leave a few pieces of the furniture unplaced, but the day was surely as success; we met other museum professionals, got the behind-the-scenes look at a small institution, and worked directly with a collection. I think I speak for my classmate when I say that volunteering with the White Gloves Gang was a fun and truly rewarding experience. Until next year…

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The White Gloves Gang is Coming!

Posted on September 16th, 2011 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager, Jobi Zink

The White Gloves Gang is coming to Baltimore on October 12—and they are looking for more gang members!


Check out the recruitment flyer

What is the White Gloves Gang? No, its not a bunch of waiters or caterers (although that would be a good guess since a) they wear white gloves and b) we’ve been talking a lot about food with our upcoming Chosen Food exhibition.) And no, its not a bunch of fastidious maids coming to see how well you’ve dusted your credenza (although this guess is a little closer to the real answer).

Taking the name from the distinguished (okay, distinguishing!) cotton garment routinely worn when handling art and artifacts, the White Gloves Gang comprises registrars, collections managers, archivists, conservators and Museum Studies students who come together at the end of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM) conference for a one-day service project.

A registrar’s favorite accessory!

Since the MAAM conference is in Baltimore this year from October 9-12,  I am coordinating all of the Gang’s activities! I’ve scouted out a number of museums and talked with their staff. Almost every museum had a collections project that needed many hands to tackle. The trick is finding a project (or 2) that 4+ people can work on and complete in one day.  The gang will be helping at the following venues: Sports Legends Museum, Fells Point Preservation Society, National Electronics Museum and the Historical Society of Baltimore County  to number artifacts, conduct inventory, catalog books, shift boxes, folder archives and photograph objects.

 Past Gangs working on White Gloves projects

If you have object numbering, archival processing, photography, or database skills and you’ve ever wanted to work in a museum for a day (or a different museum from the one that currently employs you!), please join the gang! Registration at the MAAM conference is not required to join the gang. Contact Jobi Zink for more information.

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