June 9, 2011 is International Archives Day!
Today we reach out to our community to remind them of the
importance of archival collections, and to encourage them to learn
through the study of the primary sources we preserve. We are
celebrating this year with the debut of our blog, which will
feature articles about the more interesting items in our
What is an archivist?
Plenty of people ask: "What sorts of things are in the
Archives, anyway? And what does an archivist do?" We do many
things here in the museum's archives, but here is a recent
Part of an archivist's job is doing what we call holdings
maintenance, which consists of checking in on objects periodically
to be sure they are still in good shape. For instance, right now we
are preparing our collections for our upcoming move to the Rocky Mountain
Science Collections Center, which requires that we put objects
in containers suitable for long-term storage.
In March 2011, the Archives team partnered with our colleagues
in the Conservation department to preserve some
of our textile artifacts. One of the items was a pair of mukluks worn by museum taxidermist Jack Putnam
during his 1965 field expeditions to Alaska. Before this treatment,
these objects had been sitting unsupported on a shelf, loosely
wrapped in a plastic bag. Now they have been stuffed with cotton
(which will keep the material from creasing) and were moved to
sturdy archival boxes that will provide protection without giving
off any gasses that might damage the fabric.
Why preserve shoes?
Why do we care about an old pair of shoes? These artifacts help
tell the story of what goes on behind the scenes of the museum. The
dioramas are fascinating, but so are the stories about how the
specimens were collected, the personalities of those doing the
work, and the process of how the dioramas were designed and built.
Objects like these are a physical link to the museum's past, and -
if properly cared for - will continue to educate scholars for many
years to come.
Read more about the Conservation
Department's preservation work here.