When the Angels Descended on LCHA
Each year the Costume Society of America (CSA) gives a small, deserving museum an opportunity to be the recipient of their “Angel Project” award. In 2017, such an opportunity presented itself to LCHA. The CSA’s National Symposium was held in Portland, Maine. The Angel Project is a one-day event, held each year near the site of the CSA National Symposium. To qualify for the project, the museum must have a Director, Executive Board, Board of Trustees, active membership and a significant textile collection. The site must also be within 45 minutes of the Symposiums location. Our director along with the Collections Committee applied for the Project. We were notified that we were in the “running” but, an in-depth interview and presentation of the various textile objects was necessary to complete the application. With fingers crossed we pulled out our best representation of the collection including clothing, accessories, quilts and samplers. After careful examination of our objects by 3 members of CSA leadership and a wonderful, informative morning, we were notified that we had been selected as the 2017 winners of the “Angel Project” Award.
The “Angels” are members of the CSA who volunteer their time, knowledge and skills to the winning museum. Canvassing the staff and volunteers from LCHA, we developed a workable plan for a one-day intensive project that met the collections most pressing needs. The Angels provided the much-needed basic training in museum standards of care for costume and accessories collections along with expertise and additional Human Resources. They spent the day documenting, identifying, photographing and making small repairs to as many textile objects in the museum’s collection as time allowed. As part of the project, LCHA received over $1,000 in archival materials, including boxes and acid free tissue paper. In addition, we were given a computer, digital camera and a special vacuum cleaner to help maintain certain textiles. By the end of the day, the Angels documented, wrapped and stored over 300 objects from our collection. They left us with the tools and knowledge to continue to conserve the many costumes, accessories, quilts and various textiles in our impressive collection.
The Angel Project Award led to jump starting and completing the recent Adopt-a-Sampler Project. Through the generous donations of our members, we identified, conserved and framed 19 historically significant samplers in the LCHA collection. Our sampler collection was featured in an article in the international magazine PieceWork written by one of the “Angels,” Susan Jerome. We came to realize the need for a museum data base system not only to catalog the textile collection, but all of the objects at our three historic properties. This is still a work in progress as we continue to enter our entire collection into Catalogit.
Through our newsletters and articles about objects in our collection, we have connected with people who have reached out to LCHA to donate back important heirlooms belonging to the early families who lived at Pownalborough Courthouse. Such donations were the return of the Rebecca Goodwin Johnson Prescott portrait painted by Henry Cheever Pratt and a generous donation that enabled the restoration and framing of the Hooper children portrait. This is the mission of LCHA in action, as we continue to collect, preserve and interpret the history of Lincoln County for future generations.
Faye Snyder, Chair, LCHA Collections Committee