Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

Behind the Scenes with IMLS: New Beginnings

May 5, 2016

imls-team
Conservation specialist Mallory Bower and collections specialist Jake Hildebrandt removing objects from shelving in the Collections Storage Building.


imls-logoThe Henry Ford has recently embarked on a new adventure, thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) which allows us to spend time working on the electrical collections currently housed in the Collections Storage Building. This is The Henry Ford’s second IMLS grant dedicated to improving the storage of and access to collections. The
first grant focused on communications technology, and was completed over two years, ending in October 2015. At the end of that grant, more than 1000 communications-related objects were conserved, catalogued, digitized, and stored, marking a huge improvement in the state of the collections and their accessibility. We have similar goals for this grant, as we aim to complete 900+ objects by October 2017.

An Edison System Ammeter, one of the first objects treated in the course of the new IMLS grant.

The ‘electrical’ theme of the grant includes objects like meters and motors, rheostats, transformers, and switches. We will easily be able to make it to 900 objects without including appliances, lightbulbs, or batteries, so those will unfortunately have to wait for another time (or another grant?).


You may have seen a
previous blog post about the process of treating objects included in the IMLS communications grant. A new conservator, Louise Stewart Beck (that’s me!), and a new conservation specialist, Mallory Bower, have been hired specifically to work on this project. We’re joining Jake Hildebrandt, Collections Specialist; Clara Deck, Senior Conservator; and several other members of the historical resources staff who are involved with the grant.

We are really pleased with our progress thus far, having passed the 100-object completion mark this past week! The objects that we’ve completed are working their way through the rest of the process, including cataloging, photography, and packing, and eventually will all be viewable on The Henry Ford’s newly-redesigned website for all to see. In the coming months, we will have more “sneak peeks” into our work and the electrical collection, including object highlights, interesting treatments, and curatorial discoveries. Stay tuned.

Louise Stewart Beck is the IMLS Project Conservator at The Henry Ford.

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