UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History awarded Oregon Cultural Trust grant

Métis quillwork garters for leggings, acquired between 1897-1905 by Samuel Washburn and donated to the museum by his niece, Jessie Sterne, in 1959 (photo by the Museum of Natural and Cultural History)

The UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History (MNCH) will receive $17,500 in funding from the Oregon Cultural Trust to rehouse some of the museum's most fragile collections.

The award was among 49 competitive cultural development grants awarded this fiscal year by the Oregon Cultural Trust. The 49 grants -- totaling $539,351 -- will support a variety of arts, heritage, and humanities programs statewide. Other Willamette Valley awardees include the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Oregon Bach Festival, Eugene Ballet Co. and Lane Arts Council.

The $17,500 to MNCH will support the purchase of archival-quality, powder-coated steel cabinets to store the museum's collections of beadwork, fur, hide and feather items -- items currently housed in wooden cabinets.

"The wooden cabinetry dates to the late 70s and early 80s," said Pamela Endzweig, director of anthropological collections at the MNCH. "The wood is acidic and it off-gasses volatile compounds which, over time, can damage the organic materials in these collections."

The new archival cabinetry will eliminate this danger and provide improved protection from factors such as humidity, light and dust. The new cabinets also will improve access to the collections by researchers, tour participants and exhibits staff.

"Unlike the wooden cabinets, which have stationary shelves," said Endzweig, "these will have sliding drawers that make it easy to view the objects without having to handle them, which will further reduce the risk of damage."

"These collections contain some of the most sensitive and significant anthropological objects housed at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History," said Jon Erlandson, the museum's executive director. "We are delighted to partner with the Oregon Cultural Trust in preserving and protecting them for generations to come."

Items from the collections will be featured in an upcoming beadwork exhibit at MNCH, scheduled to open in spring 2014.

- from the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History