CRDIP | Historic Housekeeping is Conservation
Written by: Ashley Martinez
I am currently at my half way point at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (MABI) as a Museum Education and Curatorial Fellow. I have had the privilege of working with incredible staff at MABI, both from the interpretation and the curatorial team. During my time here I have had the opportunity to create my very own exhibit, design and give two separate kinds of tours and maintain the historic site through historic housekeeping. The historic house we have here is a tangible piece of history and creates a visible connection to interpretation done at MABI.
The goal is maintaining objects and collection pieces that highlight craftsmanship nationally and internationally. Here at MABI we house the largest private collection of Hudson River Valley School paintings, stunning china porcelain spanning from the 1600s-1800s, delicate 1885 Lincrusta-Walton, and 2 custom commissioned Tiffany stained glass windows.
Historic housekeeping may sound rudimentary but as a history buff I find it’s pretty darn cool. It’s not your typical house cleaning in museum spaces, and you should never use everyday household cleaning products on collections because they can wear away an object’s surface. Preserving historic homes should be as noninvasive as possible since every interaction you have with the collection means the potential risk of damaging it.
Maintaining historic homes also directly benefits the visitors at our park. The collection can be interpreted in its original context which helps visitors get a sense of who the namesakes of this park were and how they lived.
Interested in learning more about American Conservation Experience, including our programs – Conservation Crew and Emerging Professionals in Conservation? If so, click here to check out our resources, media, and to apply online.