Stuff Preservation

Columbus Alive | June 2, 2005
In a museum or gallery, one is constantly aware of the rules and protections in place to make sure the art on display is preserved in a pristine state. But when a work is taken home, it often becomes subject to an everyday environment of dust, pet hair, temperature changes and killing sunlight.

At the start of Saving Stuff (Simon & Schuster), Don Williams, a senior conservator for the Smithsonian Institution, states that everything eventually turns to dust. Then, with co-writer Louisa Jagger, he offers more than 300 pages of relatively simple but valuable advice to stave off the disintegration process in fine art, the family silver, old musical instruments and virtually anything of monetary or sentimental value.

A flood in Jagger’s basement inspired the project, and sets up one of the book’s mantras: Basements and attics are bad for your treasures. Heating vents, furniture oil and cigarette smoke are also out. Williams peppers his tips with anecdotes about a few of the Smithsonian’s millions of specimens, and as he runs through the do’s and don’ts of metal, wood, paper and, most humorously, textiles (Williams insists you treat them like you would your grandmother, i.e. “Never let bugs eat Grandma”), he assigns equal worth to antique furniture, concert T-shirts and kids’ macaroni art. Inevitably your thoughts will turn not only to protecting what you love, but to a personal reevaluation of what you treasure, and why.

Columbus Alive

Founded in 1983, Alive is the Capital City's oldest and only independent alternative and is known for providing a forum for the area's free thinkers. The paper's spirited and original perspective on music, arts and culture distinguish it from the...
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