As you are aware, work on the Air Raid Shelters (ARS) has been on going and heading towards a big opening event on the 28th June, THIS FRIDAY!!! So, as you can imagine it has been all hands to the deck, hoping that everything will be done and perfect for the event.
A new case is going in the entrance to the ARS, and will hold a display containing collections items relating to different aspects of World War II; Air Raid Prevention, Rationing, Medical care, Hitler/Churchill and more. This case is brand new and air tight/waterproof which is a necessity. If you recall the conditions and setting that caused the deterioration of objects in the ARS and so, their removal and restoration, there was no way at all to have collection items in the shelters without this case to protect them. Which, of course, is a great shame and so now the opportunity to show off some of the great WW2 items in our collection has arisen, I am very excited.
A few weeks ago a lot of relevant objects were chosen from the collection and brought out of storage and placed on a table together. Janny and Angela were than able to get a bit of a better idea which objects they wanted to use in the case; the best condition, interesting objects that worked well together. Once decided, a lot of the objects then had to be repacked and put back in their permanent locations. The objects chosen were then packed and began their journey over to the ARS. They have to be accounted for every step of the way though; from the collection, to the table, transit and their final destination.
In addition to the removal of some objects in the Shelters to be restored, some objects were removed that were in to bad a condition to be kept, these were disposed of. Some objects were removed as they no longer served a purpose in ARS and so were to be stored in the collection, and further more, some objects in the shelters were not touched at all.
Some of the objects brought back into the collection included a case of medical equipment from the Nurses station and some sheet music. These objects had to be given a RD (Retrospective Documentation) number, labeled, packed in tissue paper and found a home in the permanent collection. The medical ‘equipment’ included bandages, cotton wool,
dressings and safety pins. The Sheet music was for popular war times tunes; ‘Run Rabbit Run’ and ‘We’ll Meet Again.’
Once the objects chosen for the case arrived on site at the ARS Janny and Angela were able to start working on the display inside the actual case, whereas I set off down the shelters, alone.
My job here was to have a look at all the objects that were, on the initial object inspection, deemed in well enough condition to stay in the shelters. As these objects were most likely bought or acquired with the sole purpose of being place in the ARS they do not have an identification number. I had to assign each object a SC number, take a photograph and make a quick note of description. SC stands for Support Collection, so they are not collection items. The objects, mentioned in earlier posts, that were removed and repainted were also assigned a SC number. Once back at the curatorial services I added all these SC objects, like any other object, on to Modes.
The case is looking amazing and Janny and Angela have put a lot of hard work in to getting it just right. In an attempt to help I had a go at steaming the Nurses uniform that is going in the case. Being folded up in storage and transit has obviously lead to creases and so the steamer should take these out. A steamer wont damage the clothing like an iron could, as nothing actually has to touch the object apart from heat, however it was considerably harder. This was my first attempt at using a steamer and I have not got the hang of it at all, practice is definitely needed. I used the steamer, which tamed the creases and I pinned the dress to the mannequin allowing for it to be well presented in the best way for viewing in a display.
The case is looking better than i could ever have imagined and the objects on display are extremely interesting and presented well. I hope it is a talking point at the opening and for many months and years to come and the talent and hard work of the curatorial team is acknowledged and appreciated.
My favorite item in the case is a handkerchief decorated with pictures drawn by an artist called Fougasse, depicting how “tittle-tattle lost the battle” in various situations. Make sure you head on down to Stockport’s Air Raid Shelters to have a look!
(Click for larger view.)