MSUToday
Published: Sept. 19, 2016

Preserving the future of museum collections

Contact(s): Lora Helou MSU Museum office: (517) 432-3357 helou@msu.edu

The Michigan State University Museum will use $50,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to conduct general conservation surveys of its natural science and cultural collections and to implement short-term care and rehousing improvements.

As one of six Michigan institutions to receive a Museums of America grant, the IMLS project is a critical link in the museum’s progression toward managing and housing collections according to the highest professional standards, said Lora Helou, acting director of the museum.

The Museums for America program supports projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public. 

“This is a very timely and important investment in collections care, and helps advance the museum’s commitment to conservation, preservation, research, teaching and learning,” she said.

Beginning Oct. 1, four visiting consultants will bring expertise in the care and conservation of natural science specimens, cultural objects, paper materials and documents and textiles.

The surveys will include broad assessments of environmental conditions in the museum facilities, exhibits and collections spaces. Consultants will identify conservation problems and provide prioritized recommendations for future conservation activities.

While on campus each consultant will deliver a collection care presentation in his or her area of expertise to a live campus audience and simultaneously to a virtual audience via web conference. After the close of the project, the reports and recommendations will be used to inform components of a new long-range strategic plan to advance stewardship of MSU Museum collections.

“The opportunity to interact with these experts will position the museum to implement the most up-to-date preservation practices and provide an incredible learning opportunity for MSU students and staff,” Helou said.

IMLS announced grants for 206 museum projects totaling more than $21 million. Museums were selected from a pool of 548 applications.

“Museums play a vital role in their communities, supporting learning experiences and inquiry for people of all ages, fostering civic engagement and serving as stewards of collections that represent the nation’s cultural, historical and scientific heritage,” said IMLS Director Kathryn Matthew. “The federal support provided by IMLS will help museums all over the country, enabling their best efforts to provide the highest level of public service.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning and cultural and civic engagement.

The MSU Museum will use an IMLS grant to preserve its cultural collections.

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