Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Busy Days

This week seems to be busier than last. Although, I must admit that it feels that way almost every week. Yesterday, we held another round of cataloguing. The four volunteers and I worked from 1 to 4 pm. We're working our way through the World War I collection of Sgt. Charles Beaver. Personally, I've spent the last two work sessions cataloguing items from his housewife (sewing kit)...buttons and safety pins mostly.

Last Saturday, we had our special presentation entitled Early Black Schools in Georgetown 1868-1966. Dr. Farney, who had written her dissertation on the history of schools in Georgetown, found through her research that Black schools in the community existed about 25 years earlier than had been thought. It was a very interesting presentation. I know that I've heard a number of people talk about how much they enjoyed it.

So, what are we doing this week that's so busy? Today, I meeting with our webmaster-- we're in the process of revamping our website. This afternoon I've got a meeting with an historian from Austin who is doing research on slave cabins in Williamson County. I've gathered together some information, but we also have images of two different slave cabins in our collection. I'm going to share those with her. Tonight is also our first meeting for the upcoming Chuckwagon Cook-off. Mickie is going to be at the Sun City Non-profit Fair most of tomorrow. Plus, tomorrow night is the board meeting. Then, some history students from Southwestern are coming by on Friday morning to talk about the Dan Moody/KKK trial. I think that they're going to do a class project on the trial. I've got about 13 things on my to-do list. I'd better get-to crackin.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Planning ahead

It's that time again. Time to start planning for our biggest event of the year. Yep. I'm talking about the Up the Chisholm Trail Cattle Drive and Chuckwagon Cook-off. It's held on the last weekend of September (26 & 27). This year, it's the third year for the Cattle Drive and the second year for the Chuckwagon Cook-off.

Staff started meeting last week...going over budgets, plans, and the cattle drive route. Last year, we drove the cattle 2.5 miles from San Gabriel Park to downtown Georgetown. This year, because of liability and logistics, we're consolidating the entire event at San Gabriel Park. We'll have the chuckwagons, the longhorns, demostrators, live music, and much more. The entire event last year drew over 8000 people. Not too shabby for a museum with a staff of 3.5.
Next week will be the first meeting for the Chuckwagon Committee. We start planning this early so that we can get funding, get wagons (we're aiming for 15! this year), and get everything we need. Last year (our first year for the chuckwagon competition) everything went so, so smoothly that you'd think we'd been old pros. It was such as fabulous event, and I'm not just saying that because I was a part of it. I'd never been to a chuckwagon competition, and I must say that it is just a wonderful thing to behold. The wagons are judged on their authenticity, not to mention their food.
On a completely different note, super-intern Celina has returned to the museum as our new Museum Assistant (AKA administrative assistant). Staff and volunteers are so happy and excited to have her back with us. Yea!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Unwanted Objects

This article in yesterday's Austin American Statesman brings up a good discussion point.

What do Museums do with the objects they no longer want in their collections?

Most museums have a document that is called a Collections Management Policy. We have one at WCHM. One of the topics discussed in our Collections Management Policy is how we go about deaccessioning objects (or removing them from our permanent collection).

I wanted to share that portion of our policy with you, since it is a public document, and ethically and professionally, we're required to treat our collections in certain ways.

From our policy:

An object may be deaccessioned from the permanent collection for any of the following reasons:

  • The object is outside of, or no longer relevant to, the Museum’s stated purpose and its acquisitions policy;
  • The object lacks physical integrity (incomplete, broken, or in poor and unsalvageable condition);
  • The item has failed to retain its authenticity;
  • The item has been lost or stolen and remains lost for longer than two years;
  • The Museum is unable to properly care for and preserve the object;
  • The object has deteriorated to the degree that it cannot be used for exhibit or research purposes;
  • There exists a more appropriate repository for the material;
  • The item is a duplicate or reproduction; the Museum’s collection contains other objects of the same type that are sufficient or better suited to the Museum’s needs; and/or
  • The object is determined through documentation research to fall under items protected under NAGPRA, Antiquities Code of Texas, ARPA, or other relevant acts or treaties, or is determined to be stolen.


The Museum Curator will make recommendations for object deaccessioning when one or more of the deaccession criteria are met. Upon approval by the Board, the Museum Curator will make every effort for immediate disposal. Upon deaccessioning, a full written report, with photographs, will become part of the Museum’s permanent records. A complete and open file will be maintained by the Museum on all deaccessioned materials.


Objects approved for deaccessioning will be disposed of in one of the following manners:

· Transferred to the Museum’s education or research collection;

· Sold at public auction or sale;

· Exchanged with organizations, institutions, or other relevant sources for objects, library or archival material needed in the Museum’s collections;

· Transferred to another museum or public educational institution; or

· Destroyed.

The Museum Curator will first look for similar institutions that can benefit from deaccessioned materials. In transferring these materials, preference will be given to retaining in the community, state, or nation material that is part of its respective artistic, historical, cultural, technological, or scientific heritage.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quilts, Schools, and Education

We had our first Education Committee meeting of the year last night-- some old faces, some new. Our main goal at this point is to plan (and pull off) a successful Pioneer Day, which will be held on May 10 at Old Settlers' Park in Round Rock. An exciting addition this year: San Gabriel Pioneers will make camp and prepare food in dutch ovens. Yum! They prepared food for the volunteers last year, and I'm telling you-- you DON'T want to miss it!

Saturday is our monthly Hands-On History activity. This month's activity is learning about significant African Americans from Williamson County and creating commemorative postage stamps in their honor. The activity comes the week before our special presentation entitled, "Early Black Schools in Georgetown 1868-1966." Dr. Marsha Farney wrote her dissertation on the history of schools in Georgetown, and this topic comes from that work. The presentation is Saturday, February 23 @ 2:00 pm in the Courthouse.

I'm planning our next temporary exhibit. We're going to exhibit 4-6 quilts from the Museum's collection. The fun part will be how they're displayed-- we're going to suspend them from the ceiling, which means my favorite...scaffolding. With the exhibit, we'll be hosting a special presentation/lecture by author Marcia Kaylakie whose new book is Quilts: Storytelling One Stitch at a Time. We're very excited about this event.

I hosted a collections volunteer training session on Tuesday-- we did a refresher for those who hadn't been in a while and taught one new volunteer the cataloguing ropes. I like the training for collections, because cataloguing is one of my favorite things to do. We had 5 volunteers on Tuesday afternoon, and we catalogued 35 objects. I was so excited that we did so many in that one day. Go Collections Volunteers! You Rock!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


It's never the same every day. That's one of the great things about working in a museum. There's drop-ins, there's meetings, there's planning for programs and exhibits. We're cataloguing artifacts. We're taking new donations. Volunteers are going through refresher training (or, for some, new training).

I attended the Austin Museum Partnership meeting yesterday. I've been going to the AMP meetings, off and on, for over 7 years. For the past two, I've been the organization's secretary. While I don't work in an Austin museum, I find organizations such as AMP a great place to network, as well as make sure that the resources I love are promoted. If you're interested in seeing museums in Austin, visit the AMP website at And, if you're that close (in Austin), come see us!

The Hutto newspaper was here today taking photographs for an article on the Swedish exhibit. We're getting lots of great press and attendance for the exhibit, which will run for a year at the Museum. It's very exciting to see the county so interested in an exhibit!