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The Suburbanite
  • Postcard from ... Massillon: Behind the scenes

  • “The Massillon Museum recently completed a renovation of the storage facility on the third floor, where the art and history collections are stored,” a panel at the museum explains. “During the construction of the new space, the collection was kept temporarily behind these doors. Little by little, museum s...
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  • “You’ve got to see this ....”
    Those are the words contained in a cartoon-like dialog balloon pointing to one of three peek-holes cut into a door in a temporary wall dividing a makeshift storage area from the part of the second floor of Massillon Museum that still is used as gallery space.
    “What are they doing in there?” asks the dialog balloon pointing at a second hole. “I’ve never seen one of those,” remarks the balloon by the third.
    The comments and question encourage museum patrons to bring their eyes up to the holes, to perhaps see museum staff members working on the artifacts that have been stored behind the wall for many months.
    “Take a peek!” says a nearby text panel.
    “The Massillon Museum recently completed a renovation of the storage facility on the third floor, where the art and history collections are stored,” the panel explains. “During the construction of the new space, the collection was kept temporarily behind these doors. Little by little, museum staff is moving the objects back upstairs into their new home — a temperature and humidity controlled space with excellent lighting, new shelving units, and a research room.
    “You can experience some of what happens behind the scenes by peeking into the temporary storage space. Once these galleries are emptied and all artifacts stored safely upstairs, they will transform into exhibit spaces once again.”
    During the renovation of the third floor, the artifacts were contained in an area that was sectioned from gallery space now displaying the “Massillon Tigers” exhibition. To the right of the doorway is an orange jacket of the type worn by Washington High School Tigers players and to the door’s left is a collection of Obie mascot pins that were designed by the presidents of the team’s booster club between 1952 and 2011.
    The temporary storage area once was filled, said Christina Savu-Teeters, the museum’s registrar.
    “We packed it in 2009 and started moving things back in the beginning of 2011,” she said, noting that returning the artifacts to permanent storage has been an orderly process. “I’ve helped bring it all back so I know where everything is.”
    The new home for artifacts is an old space on the third floor of the museum.
    “It was always used for storage, but the conditions weren’t ideal,” explained Mandy Altimus-Pond, museum archivist.
    The area was renovated  — made into a climate-controlled and artifact-friendly space where the temperature is a constant 60 degrees and the humidity a continuous 50 percent — with funding from local donations and grants. Facilities include the new Velma B. Erwin Research Room.
    Although there are no peek-holes for the public to look through, an inspection of the space reveals cabinets for such artifacts as more than 600 hats and about 800 salt and pepper shakers. The third-floor storage area offers horizontal storage for dozens of rolled textiles. And the facility provides rolling racks for storing framed items — artwork and posters.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It’s been nice to see how it was all reconstructed,” said Savu-Teeters. “It was dark before, but now our lighting is zoned. We can turn on banks of lights, so if I’m working in one section I don’t have to turn on the lights in another section.”
    Altimus-Pond said that the framed objects are the final artifacts to be returned to their permanent storage places — soon, so if you still want to peek behind the scenes you’d better take that look into the peek-holes within the next few weeks.
    “Our goal is to have everything up in there by the end of December,” said Altimus-Pond. “We’re taking our time. Doing it right. One hundred thousand objects are hard to put away.”

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