Observation and Preservation Pastime

06.15.2015
Blog

By Grace Edquist, Intern, Preservation Office

I had the pleasure of working with the Preservation Department for a brief three week internship. I focused on two main projects, rehousing postal service badges, and conducting visitor observations. Rehousing, is when you create safe or secure housing for an object. In doing this, I learned the process of how to safely store artifacts, as well as how to make the proper sink mats to house them.

I cut the sink mats into archival barrier board after measuring each of the individual objects for correct placement, then I decided which artifacts required twill ties. Following this step, I glued another layer of board underneath the board with cuts, using polyvinyl acetate (PVA) adhesive. In addition, I was able to complete a full inventory of the badges that I rehoused. My final products were two new trays of sink mats for 34 badges.

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Sink Mat Construction

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Completed Sink Mat

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Trays of Badges Being Moved to Storage

Another project I worked on was conducting an observation survey in an effort to understand the visitor interaction with the SmartGlass™. SmartGlass™ is used for the detonator and anthrax letter on display in the Behind the Badge exhibit. SmartGlass™ protects objects that are sensitive to light and more can be learned about it here.

Over the course of my three weeks, I spent two hours a day observing visitors and how they interacted with the smart glass buttons. I was surprised to discover the amount of people who either did not press the button, or quickly pressed the button and walked away before the glass could light up and reveal the artifact. Overall, I learned that I should never assume a visitor’s interaction until conducting a study or survey like this one. A goal in the future for these SmartGlass™ exhibits, would be for visitors to approach them with curiosity rather than trepidation or confusion. Now, the Preservation staff will meet with the exhibit department to use the data I collected in order to determine a solution to improve visitors’ interactions with SmartGlass™.

By doing these activities I now feel much more informed on collections management and preservation. I learned so much from this experience and I enjoyed it tremendously. I encourage others to explore these interesting processes, as well as everything the Postal Museum has to offer.

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Grace with a Finished Tray

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SmartGlass Observation