We have been in recovery mode since March 7th. The water is gone. The humidity is perfect. The pressure valve has been repaired. We have added two new water sensors just to make sure the building is monitored 24/7.

Since the flood we’ve had baseboards and drywall repairs to the work room and office areas. Van Hoog Consulting & Construction Group’s Marcel is working on the collections area, doing the repairs to all the exterior walls.

General Manager Susan Mackie’s been on the telephone to the insurers, moving the restoration along, but the women in the archives room are getting restless. They’ve been phoning.

“When can we come back? I want to catalogue,” asked volunteer Anne Grant one day.

Sorry Anne, the “dead” computers are on the worktable and there’s no place for you to work yet.

“Call me as soon as I can come in,” was Anne’s response, “and have a good day.”

Anne is always cheerful.

Another volunteer, Pat Turner, showed up last week.

“May I come for lunch I want to show you what I’ve been working on?”

I had asked Pat to sew me some “bean” bags filled with something inert. We needed book ends for the 1081 books on our new shelves. “Bean” bags might do the trick.

Pat got busy and sewed a few prototypes. Her daughter, Rose, also a volunteer, suggested she sew double bags. I liked the idea.

For several years Pat has been sewing 100% cotton clothing for our “clothing, outerwear” artefacts. “Clothing, Outerwear” is a category in our Chenhall book for museum cataloguing. It is the name for almost every piece of clothing that isn’t an unmentionable. Pat picked up white sheets at the thrift shop. She washed the sheets 3 times to remove the residue left by soap. When the clothing bags were done, she turned them over to the Textiles Registrar, Doreen Paterson. Pat saved the scraps.

Pat used her scraps for this project. She used marbles from the dollar store for one of the bean bag prototypes. For another she used glass beads. I wondered if the beads and marbles would be a problem if dropped on the concrete floor. They could break inside the cloth bags.

The next prototype was filled with clean, water-rounded pebbles. Someone mentioned that the pet stores sold them in bulk for aquariums.

The third prototype was double bagged, 2 pounds in weight, and filled with lovely inert stones. They wouldn’t attract pests. They wouldn’t sprout if there was another flood and they got wet. The prototype was perfect.

Pat was ready to go into production!

A conversation with Cathy English, the Curator at the Revelstoke City Museum helped solve another storage issue that was solved by volunteers.

I had wanted a ski rack that stored skis horizontally rather than vertically like I stored my skis at home. I was emailing with Cathy and she told me she had a method to show me. I needed to return artefacts borrowed for a train exhibit anyway, so a road trip was in order.

Cathy’s version was a rack constructed of 2 x 4s screwed into walls and the skis rested on vinyl-covered angle brackets from a hardware store. I found similar ladder hooks at Canadian Tire in Salmon Arm. Leona and Kerry Orchard painted and assembled racks for our artefacts and attached them to the east wall. All the skis and poles were stored in a dead space for less than $100.

Something troubled me though. I wanted to buffer the skis from the vinyl. It wasn’t inert. Foam was the answer – acid free of course. We had plenty of scraps and Rose Turner Reichlin came up with a fat version of a tie strap, wrapping the skis as she installed them.

I photographed the improved Revelstoke storage method and emailed the image to Cathy.

“A much better conservation practice,” she said. “We’ll make some too.” We both love sharing our tricks of the trade.

As the contractor completes the repairs from the flood, we’re getting closer and closer to being ready to have an open house and dedicate the six sided concrete vault that holds our community’s records.

There are boxes of de-accessioning to do and Susan’s hired a professional cleaner to scrub the surfaces. There is a plaque to order.

Please come to the vault’s “unveiling.” The late Rosemary Wilson, past board member and exceptional archives volunteer will be honoured. I am sure she will be present in spirit.

Date: Tuesday, May 21st
Time: 7 pm
Location: Montebello Gallery