Collections 102, Part 3: how do I store…textiles

So you’ve inherited the family textile heirlooms, now what? Textiles include clothing, rugs, blankets, lace or other fabrics. Bottomless quote generator, Ben Franklin noted: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It certainly applies to textile care; small measures now ensure good long term preservation. Let’s get started.

The quick version:

  • Don’t store in a basement, attic or garage (really, you’ll regret it)
  • Remove dry cleaning bags and wire hangers
  • If a textile is sturdy, hang it up
  • If it is heavy (like a quilt), box it up
  • If it is fragile, roll it up

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Collections 102, part 2: how do I store… vintage plastics

So last week tackled preservation materials and storage environment best suited for maintaining heirlooms and treasures at home. If you haven’t seen it, check it out real quick before you read this.

Vintage plastics

Whether Bakelite jewelry, celluloid toys, PVC fashion dolls, or mid-century kitchen chairs, plastics can be particularly tricky to store and preserve long term.

The quick version:

  • Don’t store them in sealed plastic containers or bags
  • Store them flat and avoid jostling or temperature fluctuation
  • Avoid cleaning with water or other wet solvents. Wipe with a dry micro fiber cloth
  • Odor indicates active degradation: sickly sweet “plasticy”/camphor/vinegar

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Collections 101: part 2

This post answers the question of what happens to stuff when you donate it to a museum. If you missed Collections 101: part 1, quick check it out before you continue with this one. Don’t worry, I’ll wait… Caught up? Okay. The next step in the process is to cart the item downstairs to storage for glamour shots and wrapping. Continue reading

Collections 101: part 1

2014-02-001-open-caseHave you ever wondered, “what happens to an item when I donate it to a museum?” Well, you’re  in luck because that’s just what this post is tackling. Take a (geeky and technical, but hopefully not too boring) behind the scenes look at how objects are processed and join the Raupp Museum’s permanent collection and stored for future study and display.
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What are you doing new year’s eve: artifact spotlight #10

Champagne? Check. Party hat and sparkly dress? Check. Stranger to kiss at midnight? Check. Bring on 1935! Er, I mean 2013! This coming new year will certainly look a lot different than it did 78 years ago, but one element remains the same: movie stars still know how to party. It’s nice to know that some things never change. Featured in the image below were Frances Drake (far left), Dick Powell, Mary Brian, and Bill Gargan (far right) attending a new year’s eve bash with other Hollywood elite.

2010.67.033Indeed, Hollywood had a lot to celebrate. 1935 was a very successful year for film making. Faced with growing global political instability and the economic hardship of the Great Depression, movie-goers continued to flock to escapist, swashbuckling adventure films and monster flicks. That year, Errol Flynn made his first starring role as Captain Blood.  Instant film classics like Duck Soup, Mutiny on the Bounty, Scrooge, and Top Hat also debuted. For the actors in the image, 1935 was also a busy year. Frances Drake starred Les Misérables as Eponine, a role that defined her career. Dick Powell appeared in a staggering five films including, Broadway Gondolier with William Gargan and A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Mary Brian also appeared in two films.

This AP image has been in the permanent collection of the museum archives for the past eight years but this is the first time it has been featured. To see this or other photos, drop in at the museum any time. We’re always happy to show off the collection. 


Collection Spotlight #9: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

This brown stuffed bear mounted on a metal base with metal wheels is likely an early Steiff stuffed animal. He is stuffed with wood chips and wears a brown leather collar. Despite the loss of his eyes, he’s still a handsome creature. This particular model was produced as early as 1892. Metal wheels were used until 1920 when replaced with wood in 1921. He has been a distinguished member of the permanent collection since 2000.

Steiff has the distinction of being the world’s oldest plush toy manufacturer. Margarete Steiff started her career as a seamstress with her sisters. In 1879, she made elephant pincushions as a hobby as an income supplement. Surprisingly, they were well-received by children and Steiff started making other animals including dogs, cats and pigs. By 1890, sales of these soft toys had sky-rocketed and she moved into a larger factory that made nothing but stuffed animals. The company handmade all of the animals to Steiff’s rigorous standards and continue to be handmade today.

Five of her six nephews joined the company. The second oldest, Richard, held a degree in art and spend a lot of time at the zoo sketching animals for design ideas.  He is credited with inventing the modern teddy bear with jointed legs in 1902.

If you are interested in more information about Steiff history, see

Be my valentine: artifact spotlight #7

We are Valentine’s Day enthusiasts here at the museum and we’ve already eaten enough heart-shaped treats today to prove it.  Aside from chocolates and roses, Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be complete without cards. The commercialization of the holiday has steadily advanced to its present state beginning in the mid eighteenth century.

Exchanging Valentine’s Day messages first became popular in mid 1700s England. The development of a more reliable, affordable postal service made it possible for people to mail each other messages of love. Tokens of affection were handmade with lace, paper, ribbons and poetic rhymes. Talk about a labor of love! Continue reading