Behind the Scenes

Registrars to the rescue


What: Washington Museum Association


WHO: Established to represent and serve museums of all types and sizes throughout Washington.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What do La Conner’s Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, Skagit County Historical Museum, and the Sedro-Woolley Museum all have in common?

Other than being institutions dedicated to combining history with interesting things to look at and think about, the trio of community spaces were all chosen for a Wed., June 20 “Registrars to the Rescue” (R2R) service project.

The initiative of the Washington Museum Association (WaMa) sent trained professionals to the trio of museums to help with pressing projects at each of the cultural centers.

At Skagit Valley Historical Museum, they worked with staff and volunteers to conduct an inventory and take photographs of a number of objects that no longer fit in the brick-and-mortar space on La Conner’s Fourth Street.

“This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our museum,” curator Karen Summers says. “Over those 50 years, our collections grew so much that we had to acquire an off-site storage facility in 2000. With this storage facility just about full, having the WaMa Registrars come in to assist with inventory truly is a rescue. We are so thankful for this opportunity to tackle this long-term goal to celebrate such a momentous milestone.”

At the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum in the historic Gaches mansion on Second Street, R2R volunteers worked to rehouse many of the museum’s quilts in order to ensure high-quality, long-term care of the permanent collection.

“Being a recipient of the R2R Project is a huge blessing for our organization,” executive director Amy Green says. “We are in a state of transition, and having access to these industry professionals provided us with expertise and knowledge we really need right now.”

At the Sedro-Woolley Museum, efforts were zeroed in on the inventory of a large collection of maps. Sharon Howe, the archivist for the institution, says they and their researchers will “have good access to the museum’s map collection for the first time, as well as guidance for future preservation projects.”

This is the seventh year of the Registrars to the Rescue program, and Washington Museum Association president Freya Liggett says having trained museum professionals volunteer their time on special collections projects at cultural centers, heritage organizations and museums throughout the state is a large part of what makes the organization tick.

“Registrars to the Rescue is one of the most gratifying and visible ways that WaMa achieves its mission to promote professional standards and serve Washington museums,” she says. “Skagit County museums care for one portion of the vast material catalogue that makes up our state’s cultural heritage—a heritage that all Washington museums are ultimately working to preserve.”

While those viewing the current exhibits at the three museums may not be aware of the hard work that took place behind the scenes last week, the effects of the visits will be long-lasting, and will help each institution be focused on the future, with an eye to the past.

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