An update on The Rezab Family Preservation Fund
This past summer the museum established the Rezab Family Preservation Fund to aid the museum in managing and building its collection. We thought the fund would provide an avenue for contributors to directly support the preservation of artifacts. The strong response indicates we were right! Over $2,000 has been raised and will be added to the fund seeded by Gordana Rezab’s bequest to the museum.
The Impact of Contributions to the Fund
The funds raised in the past few months have had an immediate impact on our work safe guarding the museum’s collection. We are pleased to report that 75 archival boxes, along with a roll of buffer paper, have been purchased and are being used to store artifacts. A new monthly volunteer program called, Behind-the-Scenes, has been established to provide training for those helping to move and inventory artifacts into new boxes. They also are learning how to enter each artifact’s description into our computer database. The next Behind-the-Scenes work session will be on Saturday, February 28 from 9:30 to 11:30 am.
Managing a Collection
The Western Illinois Museum’s collection of over 6,000 artifacts is managed with the assistance of a professional grade museum database system, called PastPerfect. The powerful computer application provides the tools to create a detailed record of each artifact, including a photo, its condition and its location. When the museum was established as an independent 501 (c) 3 in 2002, and moved to its current location, a number of artifacts were put into storage. At that time, the newly establish board of directors was forward thinking and implemented the use of the computer system, entering each artifact into the database before placing it in storage.
Over the last 12 years, improvements have been made to the building’s storage area including the donation of metal shelving for more efficient use of the space. Once the units were organized into rows, Gordana Rezab created a numbering system and established a method to include a specific location for each box of artifacts. Volunteers continue to better organize the artifacts, placing them into the new archive boxes and updating the computer records. This is an ongoing process which is concurrent with newly donated items being accessioned into the collection.
Why we do what we do
We strive to provide the best possible care for the museum’s collection of artifacts to ensure they will be preserved for generations. Each artifact illustrates an aspect of the region and represents our ambitions and accomplishments that will inform how we, as a community, live.
Often items are brought to the museum that a family no longer is able to keep. The museum is willing to step in and safeguard what we believe to be treasures worth preserving. The museum’s collection policy directs the decisions we make about which items we are able to care for and protect. Artifacts that help to understand pivotal times in the community, illustrate the lives of the people who played a role in the region’s development, or exemplify everyday life through the area’s history are typically added to the collection. The decision is not based on an item’s monetary value, but its ability to help us learn about our community’s history.
The challenge for the museum’s staff and board is to build a comprehensive collection –a level playing field where all the diverse and varied aspects of our community are represented. If we do our jobs right, the museum will serve future generations and provide insights, understanding and inspiration.
About the Rezab Family Preservation Fund
The fund was established to accomplish three aims:
The proper handling and storage of artifacts are essential to preserving the museum’s artifacts. The fund will be used to purchase archival materials that provide the best storage possible for the collection as well as new acquisitions.
Environment is key to the ongoing care of the collection. The fund will be used to continue to develop the best storage conditions as well the exhibition space for the museum’s artifacts.
Artifacts need their condition assessed and the inevitable damage repaired or stabilized. The fund will be used to conserve artifacts that are at risk of being lost.