Friday, October 1, 2010

What is Preservation?

So... I’ve got these 20 boxes filled with thousands of items that I’m calling my family collection.  Now it’s time to ensure their long-term preservation.  But what exactly does that mean?

Here are some of the things that I hope to address over the next 11 months:

Inventory:  Knowing what you’ve got.

Cataloging:  Knowing where to find the things that you’ve got.

Kim monitoring environment
Monitoring the environment.
Photo courtesy of the Conservation Center
for Art and Historic Artifacts.
Environment:  The importance of storing items in areas with appropriate temperature, humidity, and light levels.

Conservation Treatment:  Stabilizing historic items in an effort to slow down deterioration.

Rehousing:  Moving historic items into appropriate storage equipment or folders.

Digitization:  Reformatting for the digital age, with the possibility of nifty restoration.

There’s more (lots more!), but I think this covers the basic essentials of preservation for the family collection.  I hope to discuss most of these subjects here as I go about addressing the needs of my own collection.

An Open Invitation:  Please feel free to share in our Comments section about your experiences with preserving your family collections.  Let’s learn from each other!


  1. Dear Mr. Price,
    I heard about your blog via IIC on Facebook and felt so happy for your family collection. I am an objects conservator, teaching and practising preservation of archaeological heritage in Turkey. And I have two housefull of two separate family collections that I inherited from my grandparents and parents. Both my grandfather ( my mother's father) and my father were graphic designers and artists. My father was also a professor of architecture. I have a heritage of photographs ( and glass negatives), letters, postcards, newspapers, handmade toys, paintings,drawings, designs, textiles, stamps, etc. Unfortunately, these houses are in different locations and I live in neither of them. Therefore, I have to wait until my retirement, even to start the documentation process.. Meanwhile I will follow your blog and learn from your experience.
    For now, just let me thank you for preserving your family collection and sharing your interesting journey with others. I wish you all my best. With kind regards. H.Kokten

  2. Thank you for your comment! Your collections sound fascinating. I love glass negatives (wish we had some) and the handmade toys in your collection are particularly intriguing, too. We've been dispersing some of our art among the family because we'd much rather have these pieces enjoyed on walls than in storage. I'm just trying to get them digitized first, so we can maintain a record at home. Please stay in touch and I hope you continue to enjoy the blog! Lee