Remnants of days gone by

Preserving heirlooms requires common sense

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It's not uncommon to inherit photos, quilts and documents from family members. It's also not uncommon to find unlabeled photos and water-damaged textiles in the collection.

Tread of Pioneers Museum curator Kelly Bastone has seen her share of neglected relics. As a community service, she will offer a workshop Feb. 15 about "Preserving Family Heirlooms" to prevent any further deterioration of local family histories.

The museum offered the same workshop in February 2005.

"The people who came see--m--ed to get a lot out of it," Bastone said, "but we heard from a lot of people who couldn't come, so we decided to offer it again."

The workshop will be offered twice in one day to accommodate most schedules -- once at noon and again at 5:30 p.m. for the after-work crowd.

"Everyone has important family stuff under their beds, in the basement and in the attic," Bastone said. "As a museum, it's our place to offer this kind of service to the community."

People making a concerted effort to preserve family heirlooms can buy professional-grade conservation materials or save money and follow a few common-sense rules.

"It's as simple as understanding the environments in your home," Bastone said. "The first thing you need to know is: water is bad."

Heirlooms never should be stored in wet or moist places such as closets, against uninsulated outside walls or in basements.

"Basements are bad," Bastone said. "They are notorious for water leaks."

Heirlooms never should be stored next to water pipes, either.

Heirlooms should be stored in a place where they can be admired. Many people store heirlooms in attics and don't see them for 20 years. Moths or mold can destroy heirlooms if they are never checked.

Bastone's last advice is to avoid storing heirlooms in direct sunlight.

Attendees to the "Preserving Family Heirlooms" workshop don't need to bring anything, and most of the information will be available in handouts.

Bastone will discuss the care of quilts, clothes, china, silver, books, photo albums and scrapbooks and the preservation of historic photographs and original documents such as death and birth certificates and newspaper articles.

Bastone also will offer a list of resources for equipment such as acid-free pens for writing on the backs of photos and sleeves for preserving important photos and documents.

The advice will be based on items people commonly inherit and keep in their homes.

"We work with a lot of people who have amazing things that they may have cared for lovingly, but there is still damage that could have been prevented," Bastone said. "I think this workshop will be a great way to keep things around for (generations)."

What: "Preserving Family Heirlooms" presented by Kelly Bastone

Where:Tread of Pioneers Museum

When: Feb. 15 at noon and 5:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Call: 879-2214

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