Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Considering Our Collections: How CHM Objects are Catagorized

When you come for a visit to Clarke House, you will see several objects placed together to give an impression of an 1850s middle-class Chicago home. But are all of these items really from the mid-nineteenth century? Not everything. Currently, the museum's collection is divided into three categories: 

1. NSCDA-IL Artifacts: Items owned exclusively by The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Illinois. These objects are authentic to the Clarke House period and are the core of the museum's exhibits. Most of what you see out on display is from the NSCDA-IL collection. The bulk of these artifacts were gathered by the Dames when Clarke House was being restored in the early 1980s. Since then, the Dames have added several pieces to their collection and continue to seek out high quality period furnishings and household artifacts to enhance the authenticity of Clarke House Museum's interiors. 

The Real Deal: NSCDA-IL Artifact
2. Props: These are objects that have age, but may or may not date to the Clarke period. Props are secondary to the Dames collection, providing filler or backdrop to our principal artifacts. These objects are selected to help tell the story of our period of interpretation. Prop items would be considered "antiques" but are commonplace and easily replaceable. Guests and docents may be invited to interact with some of our prop items.

Prop Object: Fills in Our Exhibit

3. Reproductions: Objects that are modern-day copies of items that would have been available to the Clarke family. The museum uses reproductions in the same way as props, to flesh out our exhibits and make them more realistic. Reproductions are produced in the same manner, using the same materials that would have been available during the Clarke period. Guests are encouraged to touch, handle, and use reproduction items. Docents will point out reproductions for your use while on tour.

Reproduction Items: Try them out!

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