Collections Blog

This week started off at a gallop, with a whole passel of activities facing us as we stepped through the threshold of Jaeger House.

One of our key projects involved preparation for another event at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds/Fairplex: their Spring in the Farm event. Our contribution focuses on Farming Old School Style represented by a19th century grain cradle, and 20th century implements lie an oxen yoke, horse collar, and wooden citrus crate (a nod to our local citrus industry). We are including two prehistoric-era indigenous California processing tools—a mano and metate, and a mortar and pestle—while event participants can grind pepper, chilis or some other small seeds in a (modern) mortar.

This flurry of activity was accompanied by our second key project—the archiving of the Galen S. Beery Southeast Asian Papers. This has meant sorting and filing by subject, housing each group in sub-folders within archival boxes, and anticipating the arrival of our acid-free archival folders and interleaving spider paper. Conservation and a no-nonsense reference system are our immediate goals with this collection. All this is serving as prelude toward the next task: development of a finding aid and eventual digital presentation of the Papers.

Our poor student worker, Carla, was at the center of everything. She calmly and pleasantly put up with our demands to stand here, hold this, pose while we take a photo, what’s in that stack of papers. Poor Carla—we never want her to leave us!

–8 April 2019, the Director

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Last weekend the Collections participated in the Extreme STEA2M Fair hosted by the Los Angeles County Fairplex in Pomona. It was their inaugural event, an attempt to fill a void in our area, to connect our elementary through high school students with educational experiences guided by the STEA2M disciplines–Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Agriculture (added as a nod to the Fairplex’s legacy in the region’s agricultural industries), and Math.

Our exhibit was on the Stories Trees Can Tell. We brought along a redwood round from one of the downed trees from the University of La Verne campus (felled in 2015), petrified wood, and a list of creative endeavors that involved trees–poetry, music, film, and so on. Our redwood was 64 years old when it was cut down, so we marked various rings with both important and pop culture events during that time, from the building of the Berlin Wall to the introduction of Spongebob Squarepants.

The event was well-received and our exhibit saw a continuous flow (sometimes it seemed like a stampede) of visitors, both curious and full of questions. Friday, March 15, supported school trips, students, teachers, and parents; tickets were capped at 20,000 and sold out within two days of the announcement! Saturday, March 16, was also capped at 20,000, but consisted of families mainly.We stayed busy both days, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Image: Our student worker, Carla Gonzalez, talking with students about tree rings.

–23 March 2019, the Director

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The new year brings with it new promises. Here in Collections, we have vowed to expand our outreach into the community. We are currently supporting one of University of La Verne’s faculty members–Dr. Alfred Clark–who is teaching two sections of the culminating senior course, LVE 400, for our undergraduate students. The course is all about reflection on a student’s time at La Verne, and particularly the student’s interpersonal and intercultural experiences. One of the key assignments for the class is to compare a selected item from two very different cultures–one cultural item is drawn from a local, southern California museum and the second item must be from one of the cultures represented in the Collections.

We provided Dr. Clark with a list of all the cultures we currently have listed in our catalog, along with annotations about the kinds of articles we have representing those cultures. In some instances, it may be a set of baskets or textiles, in others it may be wooden figurines, money, musical instruments, or some other item altogether.

So far, we have met with just a handful of students, but we know that as their projects mature and the semester wears on, we will be seeing a whole stream of Dr. Clark’s students.

We always enjoy their visits, as it gives us an opportunity to interact with our students, to hear their observations on the selected artifact, and to discuss the various features and backstory of the selected artifact as we have recorded this information in the catalog.

–10 March 2019, the Director

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Since we moved into our new quarters in 2015, we have been busy with the ever-continuing cataloging of collections as well as conservation projects. More than that, however, we have employed student interns who assist with a variety of projects, while at the same time learning the art of museum practices–particularly the handling of collections and objects within these collections, from their documentation to their conservation and stewardship, as well as exhibit planning and mounting, and the research process involved in developing object context.

Our students have been working under the direct supervision and tutelage of the Curator. She has been guiding and mentoring them in key activities of museum practices that are intended to:

* Encourage and inculcate an appreciation for the work of Museums

* Demonstrate that these objects of cultural and natural history are not static representations of the past, but avenues of discovery through which to understand our world and our collective history

And, they have been mastering their tasks! Though they are a bit shy, we have been encouraging our students to begin writing about their experiences in the care, documentation, and stewardship responsibilities with which they have been engaged.

Watch this space for soon-to-be commentaries by our students!

–16 December 2018, the Director