It isn’t often that staff members at R.J. Haney Heritage Village have to beg when it comes to laundry, especially for sheets and pillow cases.
We usually have enough. This year we’ve been working on the textiles in the museum storage and part of the project has been to increase the hanging space for the collection of clothing.
We now have two new closet rods and an extra 32-linear feet of storage for the museum’s dresses, gowns, and other clothing.
A couple of weeks ago, Salmon Arm’s Fire Prevention Officer caught us working on the project.
Jim Nickles never warns us when he is coming. For no particular reason, I had half expected him in August.
When Jim arrived at the end of May, in time for the season’s opening, he saw the temporary rods placed across the aisles in the collection area with clothes hanging from them.
Part of Jim’s job is to inspect public buildings for safety. I could tell from the wondrous look on Jim’s face that we weren‘t in compliance. The path to the exit wasn’t clear for anyone over six feet.
I tried to reassure Jim that everyone working in the basement was less than five-foot-six. Of course he smiled, ducked his head and I knew the clothes would be mentioned in his report.
That would be an easy fix as the storage was temporary.
So later in the week, staff member Ryan Gauthier built an open air closet in the basement.
We moved a lot of artefacts so the closet could hug two sides of three support beams. Ryan had sealed the raw wood to control its natural acids from transferring to the clothing bags.
There was a little joking in the workshop as he and colleague Nev Whatley talked about museums in New York City. One of the two had been watching a documentary on the standards of big city museums.
When I heard them, I reassured the two that we have standards at the Salmon Arm Museum too. Small-city museum standards where we do the best job we can with the skills and materials we have and we try very hard to be big city in attitude and delivery. Aiming high always paid off for us.
We always pass inspection – or would shortly.
As Ryan constructed the “closet” for the clothes, volunteer and retired home economics teacher Doreen Paterson sorted the clothing for stability. Anything hung had to be well constructed and in good condition. Volunteer Pat Turner had been sewing garment bags for the clothes.
Over the winter she’s been on the hunt, making the rounds at the thrift shops to purchase pure cotton, plain white sheets.
She washed each sheet three times to remove any soap residue. Pat had sewn bags for dozens of garments, but, as Jim Nickles saw, there were still more to do.
At press time the closet is done, but Pat has just about run out of materials.
If there are plain white 100 per cent cotton sheets in your linen closet, call the museum today at 250-832-5289. We need donations desperately. Please help us with our laundry.