Holmes Museum to undergo conservation assessment, thanks to grant

3:35:30 PM CDT - Wednesday, July 19, 2006

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

WSU’s Lowell D. Holmes Museum of Anthropology will undergo a professional conservation assessment, thanks to a grant by the Heritage Preservation, a national organization dedicated to preserving the nation’s heritage.

The Holmes Museum was one of 110 museums chosen to participate in the 2006 Conservation Assessment Program, run by the Heritage Preservation and supported by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

More than 200 museums had applied this year for CAP grants to have professional conservators consult with their museums. Since 1990, nearly 2,500 museums have participated in the Conservation Assessment Program.

Getting a professional conservator’s assessment on the Holmes Museum will be like getting a second opinion about the museum’s collections and environment, said museum director Jerry Martin.

“This will give us information on our strengths and weaknesses,” Martin said. “We have our own ideas but it’s good to have a professional conservator come in and tell us about our collection’s strengths and weaknesses, curative policies and conditions.”

A conservator from Denver will spend two days visiting the museum, housed in Neff Hall, in November. Following the visit, the conservator will submit a report. According to the Heritage Preservation, the consultant will evaluate the museum’s current collections care policies, procedures and environmental conditions. When a museum has undergone an assessment, it can make improvements in its collection’s immediate, mid-range and long-range care, according to Heritage Preservation. The report will identify conservation priorities.

Another benefit of having the assessment is that it will allow the Holmes Museum to begin applying for federal grants to help make those improvements. Having participated in CAP is often a requirement for such grants, Martin said. “This could be a stepping stone.”

The Holmes Museum, which will be open 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday starting Aug. 21, has exhibitions on the Asmat of Western New Guinea, American Southwest, the evolution of man and on archaeology. Its Asmat collection is one of the three largest such collections in the United States and the largest held by a university.

It also has a number of archaeological collections from digs done by university faculty and students or donated by archeological enthusiasts.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted for the museum, which is named for a longtime WSU anthropology professor, now an emeritus faculty member.

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