As of this week, I am proud to say that Virginia and I have officially seen every hat in the collection (that we know of, at least.) When we stored the last box, I think we were both in some level of denial and frankly it took me awhile to realize that we were really, truly moving on to something else.
In celebration of being finished with hats, we watched Pirates of the Caribbean in order to admire the many hats that appear in the movie (and by that, I mean admire the people wearing said hats.)
So now what?
Well, in this whole process we’ve stumbled upon boxes that we’ll need to address, and then move on to the aisle storage to look at the boxes there. When we pulled down the last 4 or so boxes from one of the shelves, we found that actually 3 of them contained garments in need of conservational help. At some point we will look through these boxes to determine which ones will be “fixed up”.
When considering items for conservation, two main factors are considered. One is condition (What kind of damage/wear is there on the garment? What materials are involved? How much would it take to restore/repair the garment?) and the other I might describe as “value” (Is there anything particularly important or unique about this item? Does it have special history or meaning? What is it “worth”?)
It’s important to balance the two, because we have finite resources. Ultimately it comes down to deciding what restorations/repairs would benefit the collection the most. Recently we did lay out a lovely buttery-lemon colored bodice & skirt to be examined for potential conservation work. While it’s certainly a possibility in the future, for the purposes of the exhibition this fall it was not worth it.
We also need to address our growing list of deaccession candidates. When an item is taken into the collection (accessioned) it is assigned an accession number, tagged, etc. After a set number of years that I can’t recall at the moment, a donation can be considered for removal from the collection (deaccessioning). The majority of the time, items will be taken out due to condition issues. For example, we’ve added fur and velvet hats to the list that had shedding/balding issues that wouldn’t be easily fixed.
As I’ve been writing this, I’ve realized just how much work there is left to do…how much work there will always be left to do. I couldn’t be happier, though!
And now, for the very last time, here are some photos of some of the hats I’ve come across lately:
(The majority of the boxes with yellow sticky notes were looked at by yours truly)