|This small collection of mini-|
ature portraits proved to be just
|Katharine Livingston Timpson|
and her first two children:
Theo and Kay
|Maizeland, Red Hook, NY|
|Clermont's study, possibly 1890s|
This photo made all of the staff so excited,
I have to admit, I stood up and did a little jig.
|Photos were sent in advance, showing|
us what kind of things we needed to
be prepared for.
On Memorial Day weekend, we got to work, checking in one artifact after another and frequently just marveling over the trove that was in my office. Some of the biggest revelations from the collection were three previously-unknown photographs that showed the interior of Clermont. New views of the study, the dining room, and the drawing room will give us new insight into the mansion's Victorian-era appearance. Still others were touching reminders of the bonds of family, like a bible embossed with Katharine's mother's name. Even some day-to-day items were part of the donation, like a little tub of rouge with a fancy-sounding French label.
It took more than two days for three staff members to catalog the 700 photos and several hundred three-dimensional artifacts by hand. Submitting items for acceptance into a museum collection is a big deal. Not only does the object need to be historical, it also needs to meet the museum's Collections Policy, a document that gives clear guidelines for what a museum can take in. Just because we think an object is neat doesn't mean we're allowed to accept it. Among other qualifications, it has to have a clear provenance to the Livingston family--especially those who lived at Clermont.
But the work doesn't end there! Each individual item still has to be cataloged and housed in archival-quality storage. A curatorial assistant had to be brought in for this massive project, which is expected to extend for five weeks. And once everything is cataloged, then we can do what we really like to do with our collections--exhibit them so you can come and see!
Katharine was an amazing and an interesting woman of her time. But without the thousand or so artifacts we're still sifting through, we'd never know her that way. Each piece that was accepted for our collections helps us to understand she and her children as human beings, and we look forward to sharing that with you the public. Why? Because seeing historic people as real people with thoughts and feelings and make-up and babies and family photos is what makes history something you can relate to. And really that's our whole goal here.
We'll keep you updated as we get ready to unveil this daughter of Clermont next spring!