The Neville Public Museum

The Neville Blog

Keeping the Holidays Alive

Thursday, November 09, 2017
Each year the museum puts together holiday displays from our collection of figurines that once decorated the windows at H.C. Prange Co. in downtown Green Bay. Dolls of Christmas Past are displayed in vignettes on our stage and Snow Babies play outside our gift shop. This year is no different but you may notice that we changed some things about our displays compared to years past. We decided not to have our dolls move this year.



As with all our exhibits, when they are completed we inventory and do condition reports before returning the artifacts back to storage. After Holiday Memories last year, we did an extensive condition report of the artifacts. In looking closely we discovered evidence of stress. Piles of rust at the feet of some of the figures are a clue that something was happening internally that we cannot see on the outside.


Rust is caused by corrosion, a natural process where metal is gradually destroyed. Running the dolls causes the metal rods to move resulting in the rust falling from the rods inside the figurines. This leaves the piles you see in the picture above. Running the dolls constantly, even for a two month exhibit, causes strain on the internal mechanics. Piles of rust weren’t the only things we found while performing our condition reports. We also found issues with the clothing and brown marks on the surface of some of the figurines. Both of these things can happen over time.

 The brown marks on this doll are not freckles. Dolls like this were made using a hard plastic. This Plastic breaks down over time and can begin to “sweat” leaving brown marks on the surface of the figurine. The marks are caused by an oily liquid oozing out of the doll. The ooze can also leave a tacky slime behind.

The brown marks on this doll are not freckles. Dolls like this were made using a hard plastic. This Plastic breaks down over time and can begin to “sweat” leaving brown marks on the surface of the figurine. The marks are caused by an oily liquid oozing out of the doll. The ooze can also leave a tacky slime behind. This picture shows one of the issues we found with the felt and textiles of our figurines’ clothing. Over time the fabric has deteriorated, ripped, faded, or become stained.

This picture shows one of the issues we found with the felt and textiles of our figurines’ clothing.  Over time the fabric has deteriorated, ripped, faded, or become stained.

This year, we are decreasing the stress put on our dolls to help ensure that we can display them well into the future.

James Peth
Research Technician
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