Lehigh Drive closed from 25th Street

Lehigh Drive is closed from 25th street so everyone must approach from Glendon Hill Road or Lehigh Drive from downtown (and keep an eye on our website for flooding updates – it’s been a wet start to the month!)

The Museum Support Center Two Years Later…

National Canal Museum - The Museum Support Center Two Years Later…
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The Museum Support Center Two Years Later…

Written by Cyan Fink, DLNHC Inventory Coordinator

The Museum Support Center for the National Canal Museum is loaded with treasures. But how can we know exactly what is in there? That is where our IMLS grant comes into play. In 2021, The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor a grant to process, inventory, and catalog items stored at the Museum Support Center. The grant period runs for three years, which means the grant ends in August of 2024. So, let us look at what has been accomplished so far.

Before and after of shelves O and P at the Museum Support Center.

Before and after of shelves O and P at the Museum Support Center.

Wendi Blewett, now the Museum Collections Manager, started as the first Inventory Coordinator soon after the grant was awarded. She had the tedious task of creating walkways and removing items from floors throughout the building. Only once that task was completed could the inventorying start. Within that first year, Wendi was able to inventory over 40,000 items. She completed over half the shelves in the main archival room of the Museum Support Center before being promoted to the Museum Collections Manager. It was then I (Cyan Fink) was hired to finish the remaining year and half of the grant.

Now a year into my work, and eight months away from finishing the project, I have inventoried over 40,000 items from a range of different collections. The types of items found include films, photographs, documents, and objects. Topics range from local industries (Bethlehem Steel, Traylor Engineering and Manufacturing Company, and Lehigh Valley Railroad) to events across the world, such as Royal weddings, South American mining, and the history of European iron making.

Before and after of shelves Q and R at the Museum Support Center.

Many of the objects we are rediscovering fit into our collections. Resources such as documents, photographs, and items relating to the Canals throughout the Corridor help serve our mission of preserving canal history. However, some items, like an Edison phonograph, are probably a better fit somewhere else. This leads to another critical part of this project: deciding what we would like to keep and what might fit another institution’s mission better. I will be working through our long inventory list and with the help of my co-workers and board members deciding what should be kept or moved elsewhere. Resources we decide to keep will be entered into PastPerfect, our Collections Management System, in the next few months. This means that the item will have a set location, description, and object ID number to help keep track of its use and movement in the Archives and Museum. This will allow staff and users of our archives to have a better understanding of what exactly we have in our collections.

This multi-year project not only helps the DLNHC, but when it is finished, it will help community members, just like you, research their family heritage, their local history, and national history throughout the region and state. To keep up to date on this adventure and learn more about the treasures being found, check our social media posts on #MuseumMondays, easily found with the #IMLSGrant hashtag. 

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