October 2019 Newsletter
In the July issue of our newsletter, I introduced you to collections management and my role at the National Buffalo Museum. In this issue I’ll share in more specifics about what I’ve been working on.
As I mentioned in July, the National Buffalo Museum has never had a full-time staff person dedicated to keeping track of and taking care of objects in its care, which has meant that the work has not been attended to in a systematic manner, or in many cases, not at all. One of the results is that many of the objects in the Museum’s possession don’t belong to the Museum. Often there is some documentation in the form of loan documents or letters, indicating to whom the object belongs, and sometimes inquires among museum founders are necessary to determine an object’s origin and ownership. One of the things I’ve been working on is returning objects to their owners, or the original lender’s descendants. In some cases lenders have been interested in donating the object to the museum, and in others lenders prefer to have it returned home so they and their family can enjoy it. In either case, we are able to provide better care for objects by making sure they are documented to a greater extent than in the past.
The mission of the National Buffalo Museum is to educate the public on the cultural and historic significance of the American Bison. Though in the past the National Buffalo Museum has been a repository for objects of larger regional significance, we are now working towards being more mission-focused, collecting only those objects that directly relate to the American Bison. This means that some items you are used to seeing at the National Buffalo Museum might no longer be on exhibit. While these items are part of our cultural and natural history, they don’t intersect with the story of bison. As we refine and expand the story we tell, the objects we exhibit and take into collections are changing to support our mission.
One of the many rewarding aspects of my job is to create a better storage environment for the objects in our care. So far this has meant working on cleaning our basement storage, modifying it to better be able to control the environment in the storage area, and installing an industrial dehumidifier to keep the humidity in an ideal range. Improving the storage space will be an ongoing project, and we have a long way to go, but it’s exciting to start to see improvements.
If you have questions or interest in volunteering at the Museum, please call or email Rachel at 701-252-8648 / firstname.lastname@example.org