Behind the scenes: the curator in winter

What does a museum curator do in the depths of winter when her museum galleries and historic house rooms are closed to the public? Research and writing, of course! The quiet of these weeks since the new year have allowed me to focus on some major tasks that often fall by the wayside during our busy seasons.

One of my winter projects has been the detailed planning for the room settings in the upcoming Southwest outbuilding (you may have seen a Facebook video talking about the building, and read more about the project here and here). I’ve been planning for object conservation, reproduction objects like trunks and a bed, working with a private collector who will be lending a table for the chamber, and discussing textile options with an historic textile scholar. 

 

I’ve also been working on an object list and furnishing details for the Northwest Stair Passage in the house (which Phil Mark, our Director of Preservation, has touched upon quite a bit in his blog posts). There’s not much floor space in this stair passage, but a few key objects will be on display: a clothespress (for linen storage), a folding bed (for overnight guests or servants), and a close stool (a toilet for, well, personal hygiene).

Another of my goals this winter has been to catalog a backlog of objects that have been sitting waiting for a little bit of research. We had two pistols, for instance, that were found by our accounting staff in a vault in our administration building. 18th-century pistols, I should clarify. Were they accepted for the historic collection and just never transferred over? I’ve been working with a firearms dealer to help with the identification of the pistols, researching their makers and the marks on them.