Pre­par­ing Colby Col­lec­tion for Pos­ter­ity

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

An­im­por­tant and very ex­ten­sive project is tak­ing place at the Colby-Curtis Mu­seum, and I’m not re­fer­ring to the new roof that is be­ing com­pleted. By the time the “Col­lec­tion Man­age­ment Project” is fin­ished, ev­ery item in the Colby-Curtis col­lec-

tion, in­clud­ing the ob­jects in ev­ery room, cup­board, nook and cranny of Car­roll­croft and all the ob­jects in the huge barn, will have been pho­tographed, doc­u­mented and en­tered into an ac­ces­si­ble data base.

At the helm of this project is Pa­trick Le­Brun, the Colby-Curtis’ res­i­dent Mu­seum Tech­ni­cian who has pre­vi­ously cat­a­logued such pres­ti­gious col­lec­tions as that of the Chateau ame a and the oseph Ar­mand om­bardier useum. “I was at the Bom­bardier Mu­seum for about three years; I cat­a­logued the en­tire col­lec­tion. There were lots of snow ma­chines and lots of items re­lated to the ‘tin­ker­ings’ of Joseph Bom­bardier. It was like un­cov­er­ing the lab of Franken­stein,” said Mr. Le­Brun in an in­ter­view with the Stanstead Jour­nal.

“Cat­a­logu­ing a mu­seum’s in­ven­tory is like do­ing re­search. I have to de­scribe each arte­fact and fig­ure out what they are, what they were used for. When I first stum­bled on the but­ter pad­dle here in the kitchen I said ‘What is that?’ I some­times have to ask se­niors about the ob­jects and, some­times, the items stay un­known,” he con­tin­ued.

Tak­ing mul­ti­ple pho­to­graphs of each item from dif­fer­ent an­gles is also part of the process. “I have set up a photo stu­dio with a very clean back­drop. Now I’ve got to build a big­ger back­drop for the mu­seum’s larger pieces,” said the tech­ni­cian.

“Right now, I’m work­ing on the mu­seum’s mil­i­tary col­lec­tion. Just last week I found a book and some good pho­to­graphs of the Stanstead ra­goons who were ac­tive prior to the First World War. Be­ing a col­lec­tor of mil­i­tary arte­facts my­self, I found it re­ally in­ter­est­ing to get a good look at their badges and uni­forms. Sadly, we only have one cap with the in­signia of the ra­goons here at the mu­seum. There should be more arte­facts of the ra­goons in this area some­where,” men­tioned Mr. Le­Brun.

Pa­trick scanned the del­i­cate pho­tos of the ra­goons and, be­cause he is also a graphic artist, he can fix the colours in the scanned pho­tos. He also re­cently found a card­board box filled with five to six hun­dred mil­i­tary items, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary but­tons in plas­tic bag­gies and on strings, each item to be pho­tographed and doc­u­mented. Thanks to a grant from Canadian Her­itage’s Mu­seum As­sis­tance Pro­gram, Pa­trick now has a helper, Vir­ginie Caron, for six months to tackle the mo­men­tous task. “The Colby-Curtis has a huge in­ven­tory. But now that Vir­ginie is help­ing, when I have to deal with other tasks at the mu­seum the wheel keeps on turn­ing,” said Pa­trick.

The benefits of cat­a­logu­ing the mu­seum’s en­tire col­lec­tion are many. “We’ll now have pho­to­graphic mark­ers of ev­ery ob­ject, so if we take it out in three years we can see if it has been dam­aged in stor­age and that we need to do some­thing to pre­serve it bet­ter. And now, be­cause each ob­ject can be checked out well on the com­puter, there will be less ma­nip­u­la­tion of the ob­jects,” he ex­plained. In­cluded in the in­for­ma­tion about each ob­ject will also be its ex­act phys­i­cal lo­ca­tion at the mu­seum. “That’s the whole point: to be able to find ev­ery­thing!”

A col­lec­tor of in­ter­est­ing cul­tural arte­facts like vin­tage toys and board games him­self, Pa­trick en­joys his work. “I learn and dis­cover about new stuff ev­ery day, and some­times find boxes full of ob­jects. It’s like a trea­sure quest.”

The Direc­tor and Cu­ra­tor of the Colby-Curtis Mu­seum, Chloe Southam, is happy with how this im­mense project is pro­gress­ing. “We’re very pleased to have gained mo­men­tum with this project now that two peo­ple are work­ing on it. Once the en­tire col­lec­tion is cat­a­logued and dig­i­tal­ized we plan to make it avail­able on a web­site where it can be con­sulted by the public. It will take time but it is our goal to share the col­lec­tion with the public; that’s our mission,” com­mented Ms. Southam.

In the sum­mer of 2014, the Stanstead His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety/ Colby-Curtis Mu­seum re­ceived a grant of $48,448 from the “Mu­seum As­sis­tance Pro­gram” of­fered by Her­itage Canada. The grant was ob­tained in or­der to com­plete the project en­ti­tled: ise en place du logi­ciel de ges­tion de la col­lec­tion Past Per­fect et ame­nage­ment de l’en­tre­posage

Pho­tos cour­tesy

White-gloved hands are needed when ex­am­in­ing arte­facts like this hel­met of the 57th Reg­i­ment, known to­day as the Sher­brooke Hus­sars, that Pa­trick Le­Brun is hold­ing.

Vir­ginie Caron is now help­ing to cat­a­logue the Colby-Curtis col­lec­tion.

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