Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why My New Job Scares Me

Well, I'm starting my new job this term--curator of the historic clothing collection in my department. 

What the hell have I gotten myself into?

The collection was started in 1952 (the year of my birth--I hope I'm not in this big of a mess).  The focus of the collection apparently was "everything we can get our hands on" and that has remained the focus for almost 60 years.  I don't know if there has ever been a person whose primary assignment was to curate the collection (I know there hasn't been for at least 10 years).
 See those boxes in the second picture?  those are on top of stacks of drawers (which I can't get into because the racks are in the way, and there's no place to push the racks--all of which are crammed with stuff.  There are more cases under the boxes on the back wall, and to the left of the racks on the top picture.

In the bottom picture (the "office" area) every drawer and cabinet is crammed with stuff.  There is also stuff on shelves behind the curtains on the right (much of which I can't get to unless I move the desk).  Clothes, jewelry, and textiles are just lying around.

A rough estimate is that there are about 3000 garments, plus several hundred pairs of shoes and hats, a large number of quilts, a thousand textile samples, and who knows how much oddments (jewelry, vintage textile equipment, old tools, crochet hooks).  Tons of old pictures, magazines, and sewing patterns.  Newspaper clippings.  Boxes of stuff labeled "from anthropology department."

Each piece was suposed to have its own inventory form--and I keep finding those here and there, scattered around.  Many of the pieces are unlabeled and unidentified.

This is going to be interesting.  Isn't there a Chinese curse that goes "may you live in interesting times"?


  1. what a terrific challenge. strength to your sword arm! Debbie Wiles