Cultural institutions that have collections that have been affected by the flooding should be aware of the Vermont Cultural Heritage and Art Recovery Team (VCHART), which is housed at the Vermont Historical Society. The team includes curators, conservators, archivists, municipal clerks and emergency responder who have specialized knowledge and training to respond to emergency situations that impact collections at museums, historical societies, art centers, libraries and municipal offices. This week the team has been focused primarily on gathering information and assessing conditions at institutions throughout the state. As we move into the recovery phase of this disaster, the team may be of service to institutions that have collections damage that is beyond their internal capability to address. With the help of our partner organizations, the Vermont State Libraries, Vermont State Archives, Preservation Trust of Vermont, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, and Vermont Emergency Management, the Vermont Historical Society has received information about conditions at institutions throughout the state, while also promoting an awareness of the services that are available through VCHART. We have not heard from every institution that may have been impacted, so we want to encourage those who have not contacted one of the above agencies to be in contact with us. For more information about VCHART, please contact VHS Curator Jackie Calder at (802) 479-8514 or firstname.lastname@example.org. During evening and weekend hours she can be reached at (802) 522-7690.
We also want to encourage individuals and families to be aware that family keepsakes and heirlooms, such as family photos, can often be saved even when they have are waterlogged. These materials can be salvaged by air drying and gently cleaning them. Freezing certain types of materials may also buy some time until they can be treated more thoroughly. Help also is available from professional conservators. Before simply throwing away family heirlooms that have been damaged, please consider how they might be salvaged and preserved. Heritage Preservation offers a useful document that elaborates on these points. It is entitled “Save Your Treasures The Right Way” and it can be found at www.heritagepreservation.org.
Mark S. Hudson
Vermont Historical Society
60 Washington St.
Barre, VT 05641-4209