Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A step-by-step guide on how to . . .

. . . take an empty bookcase and turn it into a Family Museum with pictures.

1. Take a 30” x 46” or other size that fits your needs and space. Many of these bookcases are available at home stores and online. Some required assembly, others are sold fully constructed, however, make sure the shelves are adjustable. Material will vary from solid wood to particle board. Whatever your preference, there are many to choose from.
2. Assemble the shelves placement according to the height and shape of the heirlooms you are placing on the shelf.  Consider the subject matter: who are you showcasing and what items best tell their story.

3. When I first started out, I just put all the things on the shelves to help me sort through them.  As I did, the size and nature of the items gave me hints on how to display them. For instance, on the top shelf, I placed the few items I had of both my Grandparents: Lithuania one the left side, Italy on the right. The only lighting I had available was by lamp, however, there are many types of lighting you can install, such as rope lighting.   

4. On the second shelf I displayed my parent’s photographs at different ages, single and as a couple. The certificate in the back was given to my father by the Association of Machinist for 30 years of service. This was his profession and it afforded him to support his family.

5. The third shelf is dedicated to my dad. And he saved everything, or just about. This is an eclectic collection of assorted items, most having some relationship such as his work shirt (always from Sears and in grey) that he wore when he owed a gas station, and a business card was somehow was saved through the years. He was a builder (self-taught & built his home). He liked cigars and playing the harmonica. A pair of eyeglasses, his wallet, a collection of coins, a pocket watch, lighter, matches, and a bottle of ashes from Mount Saint Helen that erupted in Missoula, Montana on May 19, 1980 that his nephew sent him and that is granddaughter took to her 4th grade class for show-in-tell. And that’s exactly what your Family Museum is all about, show and telling the story of a family member that honors their past.     

6. The fourth shelf is dedicated to mom and her Italian family. Mostly photographs and a few items  such as her hand mirror, religious statues, book of memories, and her brother’s World War I Victory Medal for his service in the United States Military, in which he fought, was wounded, but thankfully returned home. The bronze medal features a winged Victory holding a shield and sword on the front created in 1919 and awarded to any member of the U.S. military who had served in the armed forces between 1917 & 1920 in 13 locations. My uncle served in France.
7. The bottom shelf displays a rarified grouping of my dad’s things, some of which I haven’t the slightest idea what they are and will never know, along with the things I do, such as the chucks of coal from his coalmining days in Pennsylvania, along with his miner’s steal canister wrapped in an orange leather case my father strapped to his belt before he went down into the coal mine. It was called a self‑rescuer. It was an air filter with a breathing apparatus that he would use in case of a cave-in. I wish I had more of his things, but what I do have I will cherish forever.  

That’s it. A simple bookcase turned into a Family Museum that displays & protects two generations from two countries who came to America and contributed their talents and produced future generations to carry on their legacy. But it is up to you to save it!  

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