UI Museum of Natural History receives grants to preserve collections

UI Museum of Natural History receives grants to preserve collections

The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History has received two new grants: $6,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and $4,300 from the State Historical Society of Iowa.

The funding from the NEH’s Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions will fund upgraded storage and supports for the museum’s Artic ethnographic collections. The collections contain over 1,500 artifacts collected by Frank Russell in 1892-1894 and Vilhjalmur Steffanson in 1908-1912. Objects include ivory, beadwork, tools, clothing, weapons, ornaments, and other items representing cultures such as Cree, Athabascan, Inuit, and Dog Rib. Because contact with these cultures was rare at the time, the collections are a valuable resource for research in art history, anthropology, and history. Collections manager Cindy Opitz will work with student employees, volunteers, and interns from the Museum Studies Program to build custom supports, update database information, and house the collections in two modern cabinets designed to protect items from changes in temperature and humidity.

The museum will use the funding from the State Historical Society’s Historical Resource Development Program to rehouse more than 2,300 glass slides and negatives in individual archival envelopes, photo boxes, and cabinets. Interns will scan the slides and negatives, create a database of them, and share the project with the Iowa Digital Library. Sarah Camp, a senior art major from Shellsburg, Iowa, who currently works as a curatorial assistant at the museum, served as primary author on the grant.

The mission of the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History is to inspire in visitors of all ages understanding and a sense of wonder, discovery, respect and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds through exhibits, programs and collections, as well as through links with UI research and activities.

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