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Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

First Quarter IMLS Grant Update for 2023

July 26, 2023 Archive Insight

To celebrate the completion of the first six months of work on our 2022-2024 IMLS Museums for America – Collections Stewardship Program, the Conservation staff are highlighting some standout objects we have cleaned and repaired. This grant began late last year as part of a two-year project to conserve, rehouse, relocate and create fully digital catalog records for 1,800 objects related to agriculture and the environment that have resided in the Collections Storage Building. Many of these objects will be used to support our Edible Education and Green Museum initiatives.

View of the Staff working in the Conservation Lab
Stop by the back of the museum, near the steam engines, to get a peek through the windows of the Conservation lab and see what staff are currently conserving.

Dolphin Mold during the cleaning process
One of the first objects chosen for the grant was this entertaining dolphin-patterned culinary mold that received a thorough cleaning. The image above was taken during cleaning.

Dolphin Mold after cleaning process is complete
The inscription reads: “OF ALL Y FISHES IN Y SEA / I AM DOLPHIN EAT OF ME” / THF192318

Glass washboard before cleaning
This glass washboard was cracked in nine places and previously mended, but the glue was discolored from aging. The tin soap tray mounted in the wooden frame was  corroded.

Washboard, circa 1918
After cleaning, excess old glue was removed and replaced with new glue. The inscription on the tin tray reads: “NATIONAL WASHBOARD CO. / CHICAGO SAGINAW MEMPHIS / SOAP SAVER / TRADE MARK REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. MADE IN U.S.A. / NO. 195 / PATENT 1152766-1283148" / THF194129, THF194131

Brass washboard pre cleaning showing verdigris
This washboard had a layer of verdigris (copper oxidation) on the brass portion. It was removed with a brush and mineral spirits.

Brash washboard after cleaning is complete
To protect the surface, three layers of acrylic resin were applied to create a barrier between the object and moisture in the air.

Early American wood piggin pre cleaning
This is an early American wooden piggin (pail) with wrought-iron bands that was used in dairy processing. While sorting through the storage building, pieces of the pail were found separately.

Early American wood piggin re-assembled
After conserving with wood glue, the reunited pieces formed the shape of the pail.

corn grinder pre cleaning
This corn grinder is a culinary tool donated by Mr. & Mrs. Harold Edison of Grand Rapids. It was found with flaking corrosion and covered with dirt. The handle attachment had been repaired with numerous hand-wrought nails.

corn grinder post cleaning
After cleaning and stabilization of the corroded metal, the grinder is in much better shape. / THF192361.

Peerless mouse trap pre cleaning
This Peerless mouse trap is one of the most interesting objects. There was a piece of old dried cheese between the net doors. Overall, the surface of the object was dusty and rusty.

Peerless Mouse Trap, circa 1920
Once cleaned and stabilized, the trap door was found to be operable. / THF192352.

Jee Eun Lim is IMLS project conservator at The Henry Ford. Eleanor Glenn, conservation specialist and Marlene Gray, senior conservator, are assisting Jee on the grant.

IMLS grant, #Behind The Scenes @ The Henry Ford