Keeping House

Stewardship of buildings and collections is a trust that all museums should uphold.  We are no different.  In 2013, Historic Deerfield received a Museums for America grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), an independent federal agency charged with creating strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The grant enables us to conduct a General Conservation Survey of Historic Deerfield’s 18 museum buildings and their nationally important collections of New England furniture, early American silver, English pottery, and related decorative arts. With IMLS funds we have hired three specialists to work with museum staff on this important project that will result in the creation of a Long-Range Conservation Plan for Collections and Historic Buildings.  

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Helping us to survey our collections and storage areas are Mary Jo (MJ) Davis, a conservator in private practice from West Burke, Vermont and Barbara Moore, a conservator in private practice from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  MJ graduated from the State University College at Buffalo in 1994 with a Masters in Art Conservation, and received a Certificate of Advanced Study in paper conservation from the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University.  Barbara Moore studied conservation at the University of London, and has headed conservation laboratories at Arizona State Museum, Peabody Museum (Yale), and the Strong Museum, Rochester, NY.She now works as a consultant for museums and other cultural institutions across the country.  

As part of the survey, MJ and Barbara will assess environmental conditions in Historic Deerfield’s houses and museums and evaluate the condition of our collections.  They will also review collections management policies and our emergency plan. 

Thomas F. Keefe, a partner in the firm Keefe and Wesner Architects, also works as a historic preservation consultant based in Middlebury, Vermont. Tom’s area of responsibility will be the conservation assessment of the 18 buildings in the survey.

In addition to the survey, Tom, MJ and Barbara will review with the Historic Deerfield staff, preservation of historic properties, care and handling methods for collections, and housekeeping methods for historic houses during a half day workshop on-site in April.  

As the project develops, we will report on its progress! 

Amanda Lange, Project Director
Curatorial Department Chair, and Curator of Historic Interiors

Amanda Lange