Things You Might Not Notice at the DAR Museum

Written by: L.P. Sylvester, DAR Museum Preparator
October 16, 2017

For most visitors, the exhibits, programs, and tours are the visible side of a museum, but a lot of overlooked routine work has to happen to protect the collections and keep other activities running smoothly. We thought we’d take this opportunity to share a few examples of the less noticeable tasks that happen around here behind the scenes.


Inventorying our rooms periodically is an important way for us to keep things organized. Every object is numbered, and every storage location has a number too. You’d expect museum storage to be a place where things don’t change much, but between exhibits, loans, lectures, photography, research, education programs, etc. some objects may end up leaving their usual location several times a year. We keep track of location changes in a database, but we still need to verify everything is where it’s reported to be. So… who wants to verify all 1500 objects in Silver Spoon Storage? Object Storage is next, about 5800 things in there. So it goes.


Speaking of going room to room, for over 15 years Maria has been dusting and cleaning the DAR Museum’s spaces. Keeping the collections clean and free of dust is not only good for presentation, but maintains the objects in good condition longer.  Allowing dust and other debris to settle on an object can dirty it, but also attracts moisture, which can attract mold and mildew which in turn attracts insects – all of which can damage the object in a variety of different ways. With 31 period rooms, 2 galleries, and 6 storage areas in our building to keep up,  you can imagine once she gets to the end it’s already time to start right back at the beginning again.

Pest Management:

Insects dangerous to museum pieces can crawl, fly, or ride their way into the building at any time. They find themselves a nice quiet place to settle down and spread from there. Trapping and keeping an eye on how many and exactly what kind of pests are in and around our spaces is an ongoing necessity. This past year, moths that infested and munched on the reproduction upholstery of a sofa while it was on display were unable to spread further because it was removed and treated promptly.

Thanks for reading this introduction to a few of the things going on behind the scenes at the museum. Some of it is unglamorous, and probably not even noticed, but nevertheless these things are an integral part of fulfilling our mission and bringing a good experience to you when you visit!

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Through restoring historic properties, funding scholarships and supporting our troops, DAR makes a difference in local communities.