Pop Up for Preservation

Pairs of participants look closely at each treasure and place one or more graphics nearby to ID cause(s) of damage.

Pairs of participants look closely at each treasure and place one or more graphics nearby to ID cause(s) of damage.


lighttemperatureOur C2C team recently coordinated a very successful and simple public program that any of you can R & D (rip off and duplicate) for your own heritage organization. In partnership with the Mecklenburg Historical Association, we hosted a “Pop-Up Museum of Damaged Treasures.” We’ve written about the potential of pop-ups and public programs on preservation before, and the enthusiastic participation at this event supports our previous contention that these events can be good ways to engage audiences.

humiditySONY DSCEighteen people participated in the program and populated the “museum” with 26 objects. Supply needs for hosting were minimal (tables for display + card stock and pencils for label-making) and directions for participants were easy to understand. Prior announcements emphasized that contributing to the pop-up museum was an optional part of the program and that attendees could participate without contributing. We invited those who wanted to contribute to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Find a family treasure in your house that shows signs of damage.
  2. Bring it to the location of the program.
  3. Use provided supplies (card stock to fold in tent form & pencils) to make a brief label for your object.
  4. View other contributions to the museum and learn more about what we can do to protect family treasures.
  5. Bring your object home with you at the end of the program.

pestsPollutantsThe overall topic of preservation was an accessible theme for a pop-up museum. Most of us have objects at home that show some kind of damage. The trick is identifying the cause(s) of the damage, and that exercise encouraged participants to look more closely at each object in the pop-up museum and learn more. A brief slide presentation on 6 preservation dangers before the group activity helped give audience members specific information about each. Next, they paired off and had 2 objects to analyze and identify the causes of damage. When they decided, they left a small graphic representing each cause near the object. The six shown in this post are the ones we selected to print in grayscale for the activity. The group as a whole discussed each object together and often the owner/contributor chimed in with additional comments about provenance. One measure of the program’s success was that at the end of the allotted time, when the presenter suggested wrapping up, many participants insisted on staying and completing the object-by-object discussion.

Could this program work at your institution? Let us know if you try it or have other ideas to engage audiences with preservation.

Image credits for preservation danger icons:


About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on April 22, 2014, in Connecting to Collections, Exhibitions, public programs, workshops and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I love it! It sounds like it would make a great online game, though not as educational as seeing the objects in person.

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