Writing this has made me think how important it is to preserve objects – or at least the memory of objects – in family history. I’ve been cataloging the photos and letters my mum gave me, but had neglected the box of “stuff” I’d kept as remembrance tokens of/for the boy-child. I emptied the box yesterday and sorted the contents. Now I just need to get some acid-free tissue to store the little clothes in, write a finding aid, pack it all back up again …. better add it to the list!
“It contained so much feeling, this piece of fabric cut from the dress of the baby being handed over by its mother, for life.” — Mollie Oldfield The Secret Museum (p. 88)
The Secret Museum tells the story of sixty objects, held in museum collections but not on public display. Most, if not all, museums have large numbers of items or whole collections that are kept in storage; sometimes because the items are too fragile or valuable and sometimes because there is simply no space.
The book itself is a bit unsatisfying; there seems to be no particular logic to her choice of item – except perhaps an expedience of finding several things in the same location to save on the travel budget. And perhaps most frustratingly, there are only very few – generally quite small – photos of the objects alongside some childish illustrations.
That aside, there are some…
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