Mr. ZIP Changes Zip Codes!


By Rebecca Johnson, Museum Technician

Mr. Zip

Mr. ZIP just moved into a new house! Mr. ZIP’s previous living quarters were less than perfect. He was elevated off the floor with a Tyvek (a high density polyethylene fiber) sheet draped over his head in a haphazard fashion. As a beloved object in the collection, the preservation department decided to give Mr. ZIP the proper home he deserved. Several issues had to be addressed: Mr. ZIP needed to be protected from dust and water, he needed to be easy to view, and he needed to be stable. After some collaboration, Caitlin and I came up with the perfect idea to incorporate all of Mr. ZIP’s needs!

Museum staff creating a container for Mr. Zip

First, we built a box-like base and identical top out of thick, acid free mat-board by gluing the corners together with polyvinyl acetate glue (PVA). We used heavy weights to keep the corners in place while the glue dried. While waiting for the PVA to dry, we started to make the L-shaped corner supports that would become the corners holding up the top. We used long, thin sheets of mat-board that were folded down the middle to fit into the corners of the base. We added Velcro to the base of each support to connect to the base; this was to make it easy to get Mr. ZIP in and out of his new home. We glued squares of stiff foam into the corners of the top, leaving a tiny gap before each wall, to hold the corner supports in place.

Museum staff creating a container for Mr. Zip

As one final step we draped Tyvek sheets across each open side. The Tyvek is water resistant and an easily manipulated fiber, providing great protection for Mr. ZIP! We used double-stick tape to secure the Tyvek sheets to the top of Mr. ZIP's house, and Velcro squares to secure the sides and bottom for easy access. As a final touch, we attached soft twill ribbon on all four sides at the top to hold up the Tyvek when we want to display Mr. ZIP.

Museum staff creating a container for Mr. Zip

Mr. ZIP is very popular among museum staff, and everyone was excited to to see him in his new house! Mr. ZIP is happy and safe in his new home where he will remain for many years to come.

Mr. Zip standing in a finished container.

Rebecca Johnson

About the Author
Rebecca Johnson: "Trying to explain to people what I do day-to-day at the museum is almost impossible since everyday is different for me. Being a “jack-of-all-trades”, I oversee the museum's offsite storage facilities, re-house the collection, monitor the environment, assist the collections department, and many other tasks. Working on so many different projects keeps me on my feet most of the day, but it allows me to interact with every department, including USPS employees, which I really enjoy. I received a M.A. in Museum Studies from George Washington University and have been fortunate to work in several other institutions, including the British Museum."