There’s a new exhibit at the museum! Our “Tools of the Trade” exhibit had been in place for five years, so it was time for a change. We chose to highlight some of the issues faced by the veterans after the war, so the new exhibit is titled, “When the War is Over…The Mental and Physical Legacy of War.” It is a topic which is sometimes overlooked, and it relates well to some of the issues faced by veterans of more modern conflicts.
Before the new exhibit could be installed, I had to take care of the artifacts from the old exhibit. They need to be carefully taken out of case and transported to the artifact quarantine area, also known as my office! Later, they will be returned to the collection room.
These are surgeon’s coats from the old exhibit. I kind of like seeing them side-by-side here. However, do you see any issues with this location?
Take a look at all that sunlight coming through the window behind the coats! Even when I close the blind, there is too much light for the wool coats. They would fade if left at this light level for very long, so I put cloth covers over them for protection from the light and from dust.
Now that the artifacts are stored safely, let’s get back to the exhibit case.
See how nicely the old panels fit together here? The idea was to simply take these down and put the new ones in the same place. It should be easy, right?
Oh no, the title panel overlaps the panels beneath it! This won’t be quite as straightforward an installation as I’d hoped. Isn’t that what happens with most projects though?!
Interns to the rescue! Emily and Cooper seemed happy to get some hands-on experience with museum exhibits.
Before we bring in any of the artifacts, Emily cleans the insides of the exhibit doors.
This looks much better. Cooper dusts off the new panels, because dust another enemy of artifacts!
I have to admit that I could get used to having this much help!
The large items are brought in first. The wheelchair is a style which could have been used by Civil War veterans. You can read more about it here: http://guardianoftheartifacts.blogspot.com/2011/10/taking-your-artifact-for-walk-most-of.html.
After I dusted the risers and put protective sheets of Mylar on top of each riser, the remaining artifacts were put into their places.
With over 60,000 amputations performed during the Civil War, there were many veterans who required prosthetic limbs. The U.S. government supplied limbs to the Union veterans, and there were programs in place which helped to supply the Confederate amputees with prosthetics. The arm is from the NMCWM collection and the peg leg is on loan from Gene and Carol Carmney. You can read more about the displayed arm here: http://guardianoftheartifacts.blogspot.com/2013/01/civil-war-arms-of-different-sort.html and the peg leg here: http://guardianoftheartifacts.blogspot.com/2014/05/whats-in-box.html.
Veterans who had a hand or arm amputated needed some modifications to their eating utensils. These are amputee eating utensils which combine a knife and fork so that they can be used with one hand. These utensils are on loan from Scott Pfeffer. To the left of the utensils is an invalid feeding cup, which could be used to feed liquids to hospital patients.
As you can see, there are many more artifacts on display here. If you get the chance, come by to see them in person! The official exhibit opening will be in August.
Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.
You can view my entire blog at www.guardianoftheartifacts.blogspot.com.