01 Jul Catching a Glimpse Behind the Scenes – Kristian Enbysk
Hi everyone! It has been 5 weeks since I returned to Homestead National Historical Park and I have been keeping myself busy. Immersing myself into the museum collection to begin cataloging and examining the many items this park preserves has been an experience I will not soon forget! I have been working on a number important tasks for the park including the annual inventory of museum collections I just recently completed. This is how that process went down!
Every year, national parks with museum collections must complete an annual inventory to send to regional offices, then eventually to a national reporting system. The purpose of this is to survey and report that the park is compliant and everything is accounted for. The annual inventory is a process that is both exciting and time consuming because it is more than just looking through museum items objects. It is comprised of 3 components that represent the whole scope of the collections: the random sample, the controlled property, and the accessions.
The random sample is exactly what the name says it is, a random sample of the museum collections. This is determined by the size of the collections as a whole. If a park has a tiny collection like under 250 objects, then most times they will have to survey all their items. But if a park has a substantial collection, they will be given a number of items they must go through. At Homestead, there are about 18,081 objects in the archeology, history, and biology categories (not including the archival collection). Many of these items are stored in other facilities like the Midwest Archeological Center in Lincoln. This year the random sample require us to examine about 198 objects. I say examine because during this process we make sure that the object is in the right place and there is no new damage or inconstancies, if there is, we make note. The random sample is generally associated with items that are not on display, so a lot of behind the scenes digging is the name of the game. One of the coolest items the park are a pair of mid-19th century sabers, one of them even has a custom design at the handle! The second component is the controlled property, which is every item on display at the park that we must assess and account for. The last component is the accessions, which is a randomized list of the accession files that correlate with the items that we go through. Accessions files include the legal paperwork that parks must possess to have ownership of an item, so that is a crucial part to the annual inventory.
For me, this being my second summer working on the annual inventory, I took a more leading role in the process. I was able to accomplish this task with the help from Amy, the park’s museum technician. Here’s to more exploring! Until next time.