More than 10,000 things, to be exact.
Museum officials know the total because they are in the midst of a reorganization that includes inventorying and cataloging every item.
The items include 2,029 photographs, 913 books, 507 postcards, 32 hats, 23 dresses, nine pairs of shoes and one pack of unfiltered Camel cigarettes. The cigarettes belonged to war correspondent
"We started at the top and went all the way to the basement, separating the artifacts from the non-artifacts," said museum president
Over the past four years, the museum has gotten
"So if you walked in and said, 'Do you have any information on
The cataloging project unveiled a treasure trove of wedding dresses that had been hidden in the basement, including one from 1850, said
"Some of them were packed properly," Reuvers said. "Some of them were in old
Most striking is how small the dresses are. "I don't know how they got those dresses on. This one looks like a negative size," Reuvers said, pointing to a long-sleeved gown with a jeweled buckle and mermaid tail. "They got married so young, I suppose they had no weight on them yet.
The oldest artifact in the collection is a handcarved Swedish pencil box from 1798; it belonged to the Berglund family, one of the city's pioneer families.
Ross' favorite is a wind-up horseracing parlor game that was handcrafted in
"There are eight small toy horses that run around on a circular race track," Ross said. You crank the crank, pull a lever that releases the horses ... and finally one is the winner. It's kind of crazy addictive. I can imagine a bunch of men sitting around a room, maybe the library or something, smoking their cigars and drinking their drinks and betting up a storm."
LOOKING FOR STORIES
Now that they know what they have, museum officials will start limiting donations. Unmarked photographs or a box of antiques with an unknown provenance will no longer cut it.
"Every item needs to have a story," Ross said. "We are looking for items that represent the history of
Added Reuvers: "We try not to take duplicates because we are limited in storage space.
Every once in a while, a box of odds and ends will be left on the museum's front steps, Ross said.
"It's a little gift from somebody who drove by," he said. "We look at them and see if we can determine some importance from them and then check with other museums to see if they want them. (If not), they go to the great museum in the sky."
The museum hopes to get another Legacy grant, for
And next spring, they'll apply for a
In the meantime, museum goers can expect a number of new exhibits throughout the year.
Ross said the museum received feedback that instead of having a warehouse on display, it needs to rotate its collection to keep people interested.
"That's an interesting statement because it takes a lot to get to that point," he said. "You've got to find out what you have, and you've got to figure out where to put the things that you do have and come up with the money for the displays. We're still working on that."
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