Historical society wraps fundraiser, eyes preservation tools

Thomas Mullen

The Jefferson County Historical Society (JCHS) is wrapping up its inaugural online fundraising effort.

With a $5,000 goal, JCHS surpassed the halfway point, expecting to meet its summer effort with an eye toward preservation tools.

“We wanted to try out an online fundraiser just to support our collections. The collections team maintains anything you see in our exhibits, and because of their maintenance, people can do research but the materials needed, in order to preserve these collections for longevity, those items tend to be expensive,” Alexandra Toombs, Director of Development and Giving for JCHS, told The Leader.

The association, which governs the museum and its artifacts, manages risks with a care strategy. To preserve the various materials in a museum collection, the collections team determines first what breaks them down. Such challenges to long-term preservation are known as the agents of deterioration, which includes pests, light, temperature, and humidity.

“A lot of people don’t realize what goes into the preservation of our collections in order to maintain their historical significance. And this fundraiser will help us buy the products that we need. The work they are doing is setting us up for longevity — if we don’t have these items to showcase, we don’t have a story to tell,” Toombs said.
Some of the items on the fundraiser wish list include unbuffered folder stock for housing a blueprint collection, storage boxes for a glass plate collection, a few textile boxes for some 50 to 150-year-old quilts, clothing, and uniforms, an assortment of acid-free, lignin-free, PAT-passed boxes, and a freezer.

The association has hired a firm from Vancouver to begin the work of redesigning the interior of the museum.

“We’re going to be building, inside this space, a reimagining of the experience. We will be launching a campaign so we can build this new museum for the community,” Toombs explained.

The reimagined JCHS, she added, will enhance tourism and local use, featuring a new theme each year over the next four years, on Historic Port Townsend. The first year’s theme is based on the idea of “home.”

“What is home? What does home mean to the people who live here?” Toombs asked.
With an eye toward who the association serves, she said she expects the reimagining to bring a little more realism back into the collections on display and available to researchers.

“The truth might make people uncomfortable, because we do not serve one people or group but try to tell the story of all races, all genders, everyone who lives or has lived here — we’re very inclusive.”

Toombs said the JCHS will be looking for community feedback.

“We want a lot of engagement. This is a historic building. The integrity of this building will not be adjusted. We’re really looking at accessibility, and different ways of learning and receiving information, of keeping it central in this part of the world, for the people of Jefferson County.”

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