Yesterday was the first work bee I have attended at the Rowe Historical Society. Like most small town museums there is a decided lack of space. This is something that creeps up with collections growing year after year.
One storage space had flooding a while back and our task was to remove all of the covering from the basement walls in preparation for painting.
Getting to the walls was a whole different issue.
The group of eight split along gender lines as it always does with the men doing demo on one end of the room and the women sorting and categorizing everything to move into spaces better suited for each item. For me it was a pretty awesome experience and not unlike going through the barn or coop here with decades of stuff collected.
I have to say everyone worked diligently to get to the end of the task but there were many, many light moments surrounding the question “What the heck is this?”.
I daresay this may be an issue with most museums, especially those that are trying to make sense of collections without policy taking place since the sixties. We are not alone. There is so much knowledge in this group that there were maybe 3 items in that room that were left unidentified. That’s pretty cool considering the amount of stuff that was there.
We each have our own strengths. Mine is photography and textiles but having grown up with a nutty,
hoarding collecting father it extends to sawmills, lumber and vintage farm equipment. Old Sturbridge Village taught me the use of household items in 1840 so that helped too.
There is only one member that I knew when I started this a short month ago but I see this as building community within a community. We have a common interest. These bees will continue as well as individuals working on their areas of interest. Trying to bring centuries worth of belongings into the present. Knowing what there is, why it’s there and how best to share it with the community. It always amazes me just a little bit when strangers come together with a common goal and through that friendships are built or made stronger.