Monday, July 27, 2015

Millennium learns how to conserve and preserve his history . . .

My 28 year-old son, Charlie, decided to finally clean out his closet. What an undertaking he found it to be. File folders of newspaper clippings, bags of bags from places he shopped, paper tubes filled with drawings, and boxes filled with his insatiable desire to collect maritime history artifacts. He was overwhelmed with his collections and perplexed as to how he was going to sort through it all, what to keep, what to throw away and then how and where to keep his stuff. After a few hours, he came to me with eyes like a deer caught in the headlights, stunned and at a loss at what to do next. However, he does have some knowledge on how to keep what is most important to him because he has his own museum, albeit the fact that it was created for him by me, the family museum curator. But what he has in his possession that is not in the museum is what he needs to be concerned about. So here are a few of the suggestions and steps I encouraged him to follow:

1.  Tackle one project at a time, such as going through the file folders of newspaper clippings. Review each one, measure its relevance. Separate piles in subject-like matter. Take each clipping and trim away irrelevant print, but make sure to keep the date and publication info. Repair any rips with preservation double coated tape available at Either re-file kept clippings chronologically or place a few notable ones in a scrapbook designed for keeping newspaper. For a wide selection of albums go to Google and typed in scrapbooks for newspaper clippings. A plethora of websites will give you all the help you need to find what you are looking for.
2.  Paper tubes are wonderful for storing large drawings, poster art, etc. Charlie is an artist. From the time he started to draw, his doodles, drawings and later, his diagrams were of ships. His father and I thought he would pursue a career in technical drawing, but alas, he did not, but to this day, he still draws pictures of ships. As he grew, so did the size of his drawings. The largest is a pencil and ink illustration of his most revered ship, the TITANIC. Charlie made multiple copies of this drawing. He even gave one to his high school teacher on his graduation day, and while he was a docent at our local maritime museum, he presented it to the director of the museum.

Solution to storing large drawings are to store them in paper tubes. Charlie has several of them and one already contained drawings. But he had many others and overwhelmed at how they were all going to fit.  So we laid out each and every drawing, unfurling them and making sure frayed edges were smoothed out and rips repaired. Then the drawings were lined up and firmly rolled back into place and slipped into the tube, date and contents noted.
 While doing this and before the copies were rolled up, I had Charlie take note of the TITANIC drawing hanging on his wall. I asked him if he saw any difference in the two drawings. At first he said no, but I told him to take a closer look at the writings in the picture. Getting close to it, he exclaimed, “Oh my, the writing is fading!” Yes, it sure was. So I explained how all artwork, be it a painting, photograph, reproduction work, etc., all fade with age and by light. Why do you think art museums take due-diligence protecting their artworks. So now, with him taking care to preserve and protect his drawings, when the day comes and his TITANIC drawing has faded and no longer enjoyable to look at, he can slip the preserved one from out of the tube and replace the faded one, and once again enjoy his master piece. When looking for paper tubes, check out

4. Storing items that are not flat, such as booklets, brochures, maps, and in Charlie's case, maritime memorabilia, such as past ocean liner menus, programs, even tiny ashtrays, need to be preserved in a box that is used exclusively for that purpose. Called "Memory Boxes" they are available at, Michael's Arts & Craft Stores, and When you use these boxes, to help with organizing the items inside, keep to a theme, i.e.: travel, souvenirs, cards & letters, etc. Make sure fragile items are wrapped in tissue paper, photographs in slip covers, and then fashion a list of contents with dates, places, etc. And don't over-stuff the box. It won't close properly and the idea of preservation is mute.

5. As for Charlie's bag of bags, it's entertaining. If he ever needs an odd gift bag or amusing tissue paper, he's got it. This reminds me of a few words my father said to me time  and again: "Lisbit, never throw anything away. You may need it later."

Conservation, preservation, keeping, storing, organizing - all of these activities are well-worth the time and energy you put into it. And my Millennium is learning many life-long lessons as he sorts, selects, keeps & disposes of newspaper clippings, artwork, collections and then some. And he is actually enjoying this endeavor. He gets to visit times, places, and things buried in his closet and in his memory, but now has been unearthed and enjoyed again. You should do the same!


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