Through the Collection Store and What Alice Found There (Part 2)

As promised in my previous post, this will focus on some great finds from the Petone Settlers Museum stores and some stats relating to how my internship is going thus far.

Discovering the Petone Settlers Museum’s stores

I’ve spent a lot of time recently in a cool (if a little claustrophobic) storage space, getting to know the Petone Settlers Museum collection! Below is a less than flattering image of the Petone Settlers Museum stores as it was just a month or so ago.

collection stores

When we first started working in the collection stores, it was a little messy and cold from a lack of concentrated and consistent work, but it was bursting with interesting finds and stories just waiting to be uncovered. Since the photo was taken, we have spent a lot of time and love tidying and starting an inventory of the collection.

Inventorying an entire collection is a daunting task, one I am almost certain we won’t manage within the timeframe of my internship. My mentor in this mammoth task, Collection Manager Jo Wehrly, has some tricks and shortcuts up her sleeve for the software we’re using—Vernon—which should really help.

I’ve learnt so much in the last few months with just the basics of Vernon, and I’m excited to see what else it can do!

The Museum holds some really interesting collection items, ranging from an old piano to a series of children’s toys, as well as examples of advertising, and items relating to Petone’s industrial history… and there’s a lot more of everything in-between, too.

Interesting collection finds and highlights

Some of my favourite finds so far include a programme for a farewell dinner on the SS Atlantis. SS Atlantis was a one-time military-turned-passenger-ship chartered by the NZ government to transport emigrants from the UK, leaving Southampton and arriving in Wellington between 1948 and 1952.

The programme itself was a fairly typical example of ephemera of its type, but the Vernon record was not. Vernon records can be populated with lots of useful information, from where to find the object in the stores to manufacturer and donor details.

Most of this record was filled out as we expected, until we came to the ‘place made’ section. This category was listed as the programme having been made in “the high seas”! An example of bad collection management, as it gives no useful information, but it did give Jo and me a laugh. Needless to say, we updated it quickly, but it will live on in our memories and now this blog.

I’ll provide a quick summary of what’s going on in this next image. The advert’s main character, Jane, in the first panel is lamenting the fact that she is left free at work to do her job unencumbered by admirers.

Colgate advertising

The second panel consists of Jane doing her job & her co-worker helpfully pointing out her bad breath, and that no man will lust after or love her as she is. In the third panel, Jane has gone to visit a dentist or Colgate salesperson who asserts the benefits and science of Colgate, and in the final panel (presumably after using Colgate), Jane is left surrounded by men and unable to do her job effectively.

I hope I’m not missing something, and that other people don’t actually want to be swamped by people trying to grab at them and distract them from their job…? Having access to these old adverts allows a more thorough critique and comparison of the advertising media we are currently subjected to.

And finally, on to the statistics! In the last 2 months, Jo and I have seen and inventoried over 1600 objects! That is over half of the entire collection! As well as that, we have fully updated the records of 150 objects, entered hundreds of hierarchical cataloguing terms and things like place names, makers/manufacturers, etc.—all things that make the Vernon records and the collection better and more usable.






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