Collections Vol 11 N4

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"Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals" is a multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of handling, preserving, researching, and organizing collections. Curators, archivists, collections managers, preparators, registrars, educators, students, and others contribute.

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Sticking Point History, Manufacturing Techniques, and Preservation of Decals

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Head, Conservation Services and Librarian, University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence, KS 66045; wbaker@ku.edu

Abstract Decals, also known as decalcomania or transfer prints, were invented in England and flourished between the 1850s and 1970s, although they are still used today. Applied to a wide variety of materials, they were used primarily for decoration, trademarking, and advertisement on many surfaces. The use of decals greatly speeded manufacture of many consumer goods and made them more affordable. Because decalcomania have not been widely studied in the context of collections management, this paper will discuss the invention and use of decals, categorize types of decals by printing and application methods to aid in identification, and describe preservation strategies for decals found in cultural heritage collections.

Designing and printing directly onto a manufacturer’s product is a simple task today, thanks to advancements in printing, graphic design, transfer, and computing that have enabled individuals to employ professional-level methods previously unavailable. Transferring a visual identity to another medium or form had been inconsistent, as handpainting was costly and lacked uniform results. As an improvement, transfers were developed in England and spread through much of Europe by the 1850s and to the United States by the 1860s.

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Chemical Analysis of the Dust on a Historically Important Collection The W. B. Carpenter Eozoon Collection at the Natural History Museum, London

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Maria Consuelo Sendino

Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK; c.sendino-lara@nhm.ac.uk

Javier Cuadros

Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK; J.Cuadros@nhm.ac.uk

Lu Allington-Jones

Core Research Laboratories, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK; l.allington-jones@nhm.ac.uk

Jane A. Barnbrook

Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK; J.Barnbrook@nhm.ac.uk

Abstract The Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London, houses an important historical collection: the W. B. Carpenter collection of Eozoon, which is of great significance in the history of science, specifically with regard to a nineteenth-century controversy about the presence of fossils in rock of Precambrian age. After providing a history of the Eozoon Collection, we then give an overview of its care and cu-ration up to the present before describing new research on the history of the specimens and the origin of the thick black dust which covers them. Chemical and morphological analysis of the dust using SEM-EDX (scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy) allows identification of one silicate and one sulphur-calcium phase. The silicate may derive from the Eozoon specimens themselves, whereas the sulphur-calcium phase may indicate gypsum from plaster. It is possible that the gypsum dust may have come from collapse of the ceiling during the fire in November 1885 at Carpenter’s home that led to his death.

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The Development and Use of Digital Spatial and Relational Databases Analysis of Depression-Era Archaeological Collections from the Lower Tennessee Valley of Western Tennessee

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Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc., 119 West Summit Hill Dr., 2nd Floor, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902; tbisset1@vols.utk.edu

Abstract This article presents a case study in the application of modern digital database and analytic technologies to historic archaeological museum collections and archival documents from excavations in the lower Tennessee Valley during the Great Depression. Differences in the quality and types of data collected during that period, in contrast to more modern work, have led many researchers to view these collections (and others of similar antiquity and provenience) as inadequate for new research, contributing to substantial neglect. However, these materials constitute the primary source of information about the prehistoric occupation of the lower Tennessee Valley, because that region is no longer accessible for field work. The integration of these collections and their associated documentation into modern, accessible formats is critical to enabling future research. This paper describes efforts to transform these archaeological collections and documentation into integrated relational geospatial databases, and the use of those databases to address current research questions.

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Looking Past the Screen Using Technology to Reconnect with Collections

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Independent Scholar; anna.m.heineman@gmail.com

Abstract This article looks at the ways in which museums, zoos, and cultural organizations can employ free and available technology—including blogs, databases, smartphone apps, and social media—to encourage people to look past their devices and to connect with each other through collections. Four Internet-based digital platforms are examined: online responses, information sharing, voting, and social media. The case studies demonstrate how technology can encourage connection between individuals and the collections that they have opportunities to view, understand, and curate together.

It is without doubt that technology has helped museums reach past their walls into communities near and far. With so many of us glued to our devices, however, the question can be asked: how can we use technology in museums to foster a connection among and between people? Technology provides active experiences with participants, proving that accessible and innovative means can encourage personal interaction with collections. The technological aspects used in four case studies are: online responses, information sharing, voting, and social media. None of these ideas are novel; they have all been in practice for years. The end goal, however, is not just to have a large web presence. Instead, the technology’s purpose is to have a participant share a memory, walk through museum doors, and, perhaps, interact with one another because of an object or a collection.

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