By Lisa Adam, the curator of collections and registrar
The Museum of South Texas History will celebrate Preservation Week April 22 through April 28 with a variety of activities at the museum and online. Preservation Week is an annual event founded by several national organizations including the Library of Congress. In its fifth year celebrating Preservation Week, MOSTHistory will focus on the preservation of photographs.
“Over the last century, photography had become one of the most powerful tools for humans to record and remember what they value as important. In the lower Rio Grande Valley, MOSTHistory holds one of the largest collections of such photographs in its Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives,” said Executive Director Shan Rankin.
“Numerous families, individuals, and businesses have made their photographs available to the public by donating them to the museum,” Rankin adds. “But Preservation Week is not only about what the museum holds, but what we as an entire community hold, our collective identity. Together we can protect that visual legacy, whether the photographs are in acid-free boxes in the museum, in family albums, or in business file cabinets.”
As caretakers of part of this valuable record of borderland history and culture, museum staff employ the best professional practices to care for photographs, and during Preservation Week they will share this information with the public. “We want people in the community to learn more about taking care of their photographs, and we also hope they can help us better identify some of our own holdings,” explains museum Archivist Kelly Francis-Love. “In years past, the museum received large collections of photographs, and not all of the people, events, or buildings were identified. During Preservation Week, we’re asking the public to look at some of our ‘mystery’ photographs online and at the museum to see if they can give us more information about them.”
Another feature of MOSTHistory Preservation week will be tips on taking good photographs. Adds Francis-Love, “As visual storytellers, using photographs in exhibits and education, we think about what kinds of images will mean the most for the next generation and far into the future.”
Each day of Preservation Week, the museum will post online content at www.mosthistory.org and its social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter. On Sunday, April 22, the museum will post online the first “mystery” photograph from its collection for help with identification. Additional photographs will be posted online daily through the week. On Monday, April 23, the archives staff will share a video about their brand of detective work to analyze, date and identify historic photographs. On Tuesday, April 24, they will share information about the museum’s photographic holdings. On Wednesday and Thursday, April 25 and April 26, staff will present information about how to care for, organize and display photographs. Friday, April 27, the museum will post additional resources about preserving and identifying photographs, and taking meaningful photographs.
Throughout the week, the public is invited to view—and hopefully identify—additional photographs of people, places and events in the Mystery Gallery on display in the museum’s Classroom. Concluding the week on Saturday, April 28, the public is welcomed to meet the curatorial staff at Coffee with the Curators at the museum between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Visitors can view the Mystery Gallery and ask museum staff questions about preservation. They can also learn more about the museum’s photographic collection and how it can be used for a variety of personal, business and research purposes. The Mystery Gallery of photographs will remain on view at the museum until May 20.
Coffee with the Curators is included in the fee for regular museum admission. Admission is $7 for adults; $5 for seniors/students/active military; $4 for children 4 to 12; and free for children 3 and under. FRIENDS of MOSTHistory are admitted free as a benefit of FRIENDship. The museum also offers Free Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon. The community is encouraged to come during Free Saturday morning and enjoy a day at the museum. For more information about Preservation Week activities hosted by the museum, please contact the museum at 956-383-6911.
About Museum of South Texas History
The Museum of South Texas History is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It is located in downtown Edinburg at 200 N. Closner Blvd. on the Hidalgo County Courthouse square. Hours of operation are from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday. Founded in 1967 as the Hidalgo County Historical Museum in the 1910 Hidalgo County Jail, the museum has grown over the decades through a series of expansions to occupy a full city block. In 2003, following the completion of a 22,500 square foot expansion, the museum was renamed the Museum of South Texas History to better reflect its regional scope. Today, the museum preserves and presents the borderland heritage of South Texas and Northeastern Mexico through its permanent collection and the Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives and exhibits spanning prehistory through the 20th century. For more information about MOSTHistory, including becoming a FRIEND, visit MOSTHistory.org, like us on Facebook, follow on Twitter, find on Google+ or call +1-956-383-6911.