This week was move-out week at the Mansion. Samantha, the Collections Manager, and her crew of funny, enthusiastic workers (all high-schoolers through recently-graduated with masters) accomplished a miracle over the summer. They successfully packed or otherwise removed decades of stuff. All objects—some stored in what will become exhibit galleries—were carefully inventoried, photographed and packed in numbered boxes, making it easier for myself and the curator to locate objects while they are stored in the off-side facility. As they were packing they made sure to set aside any objects that I may want to include in the exhibits.
What we found as we went room-to-room early in the project that many rooms and closets were filled with stuff: old foam core displays from past exhibits, rooms of christmas decorations, and closets of broken electronics. We saw this renovation as an opportunity to get rid of all of everything that isn’t useful and is just taking up precious space. Samantha’s crew also removed a large amount of the trash and made many trips to Best Buy to recycle all of the electronics.
They climbed into dumpsters to pack down the trash to a legal height. They inspected a number of questionable off-site storage facilities, causing Samantha to raise many questions about the safety of both the objects and staff working at the facility before finding the great location we have now. In the end, they packed over 1000 boxes of objects and finished one week ahead of schedule. Then used that extra week to devise a process for moving and arranging boxes at the facility. To again make it easier for staff to find objects.
But this crew also had fun throughout the summer. They had birthday and going-away parties for all the workers and they moved on to NYC, law school and a new married life in Cleveland. They had “company outings” to a local minor league baseball game. Inspired by the Mansion, one worker requested a fancy cocktail party in the lawn under the ginkgo tree and demanded everyone come dressed up.
They made my work over the summer so much more fun. Definitely with the parties and outings, but it was exciting and encouraging for me to come in and see the progress being made. Seeing rooms getting packed up and cleared out. I also enjoyed their enthusiasm as they ran into my office excitedly exclaiming they found something for me for the exhibits and that I needed to come right away! (Often the objects were really great.) There were random posters and plaster heads (not objects) that would appear on walls and on my desk in an effort to decorate our sad office.