Museum Matters: Preserving Paintings, Documents and Space Food | News


Craig Hadley, Dennos Museum Center

Sometimes the most important work of a museum is the work that you don’t even see as a visitor. When you visit museums across the country, curators, collections professionals and registrars work hard to preserve some of the most treasured cultural treasures in our country’s history.

After all, someone has to keep an eye out for the Constitution of the United States, the masterpieces of Kehinde Wiley and Georgia O’Keeffe, and the over 400 freeze-dried space foods that have never been eaten but which remain in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (and yes, that’s right!).

Like other museums across the country, the Dennos Museum Center takes its duty to preserve, protect and interpret works of art for future generations very seriously. After all, building and maintaining a collection of objects is what really sets a museum apart from galleries and other cultural centers.

We were incredibly fortunate to receive nearly $ 50,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services earlier this fall to cover the costs of four new oversized painting racks.

These new storage units will significantly improve and expand the existing collection space at the museum.

Of the 301 grant applicants, only 60 were selected, including the Dennos Museum Center, to receive funding.

“As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by offering important programs, services and collections. These institutions are places of trust where people can learn, explore and grow, ”said Crosby Kemper, Director of IMLS.

“IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and improve their communities. “

The Dennos Museum Center cares for nearly 3,000 works of art in its permanent collections and has committed to increasing resources for proper maintenance and preservation over the past two years.

The new oversized paint racks will provide a new home for the collection’s greatest works of art.

In addition to improving curation and access, the Dennos also strives to make its collections fully accessible online.

Generous funding from Art Bridges’ Bridge Ahead Initiative in 2020 has supported software upgrades, including the replacement of a 10 year old database system with a new web service.

After nearly a year of work on the collections by volunteers and staff, the Carleton College summer 2021 intern helped inventory the collections and digitize over 800 prints from the Inuit art collection. The first phase of our online database project can be found online at

So the next time you visit the Dennos Museum Center or one of our country’s 33,000 museums, I hope you take a moment to appreciate the care and work that goes into preserving our country’s past. .

After all, it’s really someone’s job to make sure that these Apollo 16 Cherry Bars made by the Whirlpool Corporation remain preserved for future generations to study!

Craig Hadley is the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City.


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