Welcome back, bloggers! Hopefully your autumn is going as great as mine! We are full steam ahead here at the Clinton Library. Interestingly, the other day we got a really neat set of objects transferred from the Archives to us here in museum world. Most of it had to do with AmeriCorp, but one poster in particular caught my attention while Joseph and I were cataloging…this hilarious poster to the left! What will campaign people think of next!
The other really neat thing about this poster is now I can actually put into practice something I learned from a colleague in order to smooth and flatten out this poster. If you look close enough, you can see that this poster was actually rolled and then either something heavy was laid on it or it was put between objects and then left without regard to humidity or if it was exposed to the elements.
In either case, we have a badly folded object that has been held in one terrible position for so long that it has almost hardened into the shape, and the creases are very prevalent. In order to attempt to rectify this, I will be taking some information from both Nikki Senn, a colleague who works as an Assistant Registrar at the Historic Arkansas Museum, and a Conserve O Gram from the National Park Service.
First thing is to check for water solubility. I did this with a q-tip dipped in distilled water and then applied to the edges of the paper. It checked out. Next, the Curator here at the Clinton Library, Chris, brought us a large Tupperware box that we can use to create the chamber. We decided to go with two smaller boxes, or trays that we filled with water. Over these trays, we put a sheet of coroplast, basically plastic ‘cardboard’, to allow a separation between the object and the water. Then, we put the object on top of the coroplast and sealed the top of the box itself. We will be monitoring the object to make sure that it does not ruin the document. (You may note that it is on its side. This is not ideal, but through a group decision was allowed. If you are doing this yourself, leave flat!)
The goal is to allow the box itself to humidify the paper to the point that it relaxes and releases the tough hold it has on its current form. When we remove the object from the box, we will then place it on blotting paper (top and bottom) and place something heave on the paper to allow the object to completely flatten out. I have never done this before, so this is the perfect object to try this out on! It’s a bit more stronger than your average piece of paper, I think its weight is more towards the heavy card stock, but either way we think it should work. It should be noted that this is not a fool-proof plan. You do need to monitor you documents to make sure that you do not permanently distort your papers by allowing them to become too moist or to not allow them to dry properly. If you are using photographs, please research a bit more. This is a very delicate process and it can easily go south. We are using a document that, while it is very important to us, is also not as high on the list of ‘priceless’ objects. Check your chamber about every hour, and do not leave overnight!
In addition to this awesome new process that Joseph and I are learning, we also found a really cool object that we wanted to highlight. This is a SCUD missile! Sent to President Clinton from Romania, you gotta think to yourself…why would they send a beautifully wrapped and disarmed weapon to President Clinton for safe storage and historic reflection? Well, it’s not for us to decide, its for us to document and preserve. So, enjoy!
Until next time!