Preservation and Access: Preservation Assistance Grants

Period of Performance

2/1/2011 - 7/31/2012

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Saving the Spooner Collection: A Preservation Assessment

FAIN: PG-51169-11

University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc. (Lawrence, KS 66045-3101)
Saralyn Reece Hardy (Project Director: May 2010 to December 2012)

A general preservation assessment leading to a comprehensive plan to preserve 9,000 fragile ethnographic items in the Spooner Collection housed in the Spencer Museum of Art. The objects--collected since 1890 from around the globe with a focus on New World cultures--are made of feathers, natural fibers, leather, wood, base metals, and other organic materials and present serious preservation and access challenges for housing and exhibition.

In 2007, the University of Kansas (KU) granted stewardship of 10,000 items of global art/culture, collected continuously since 1890 as ethnographic objects, to the Spencer Museum of Art (SMA). Known as the Spooner Collection, these objects belonged to the KU Museum of Anthropology until it closed in 2002 for financial reasons. The anthropology museum was a small institution with limited resources, and therefore the collection was housed in less-than-ideal conditions, resulting in dust and insect damage to many objects. Since acquiring custody of the collection, the SMA has taken many steps to stabilize it within the constraints of the Museum's existing resources. Now the Spencer Museum of Art seeks $6,000 from the NEH to carry out a general preservation assessment of the Spooner Collection, with the aim of evaluating the SMA's efforts to stabilize the collection and ensuring it is properly integrated into the Museum's overall policies and disaster plan.