Dispatches from the Moore Home: The Attic
By Amie Lalonde, Collections Cataloguer
The final room! This was the most challenging room that I tackled in the entire Moore Home. This was partially due to the structure of being in a small attic with a sloped ceiling. I added a crucial piece of equipment to my daily curatorial outfit: a bright yellow hard hat to keep me from banging my head on the roof that had only four feet of clearance at its highest point. Another challenge in this room was the lack of space to fully lay out the contents of several steamer trunks that were packed full of objects that ranged from Philip’s Princeton sweaters and academic gowns to beaded moccasins to beaver, lynx, and muskrat pelts. I was able to bring some objects downstairs to work on in the kitchen (my makeshift office for the duration of my time in the Moore home) and laid out foam on the attic floor for the remainder of the objects.
Above: My makeshift workspace in the attic.
I’m sitting in this picture so you can see how low the ceiling is.
Above: Holding spears with my hard hat on.
Above: Some of the objects that were in trunks in the attic. On the left are cigar boxes, puttees (long strips of canvas used as leg wraps by soldiers during the world wars). One cigar box held a collection of really interesting pipes (centre). Another trunk held a large assortment of arrows as well as two canvas targets (unused).
The trunk that was full of animal pelts was probably the most challenging trunk. One reason for my work in the Moore Home was to go over work that was done in the past and identify objects that needed to be re-housed in order to better conserve them. The furs in this trunk were one such example. Being tightly packed in a trunk was not ideal so the decision was made to bring them into the museum proper to re-house them in our vault. Before they could be moved to the vault however, they first spent two weeks in a freezer to ensure that no lingering pests would be introduced to the museum. After that they were removed from the old trunk trays, wrapped in tissue, and placed in multiple acid-free boxes. These steps will ensure that they stay in the best condition possible for many years.
Working in a museum means that I am constantly learning. While cataloguing the objects in the attic I came across two items that led me down a really interesting rabbit hole of new (to me) information. One was a canvas bag (pictured at right) and the other was a bug net, both sporting a label that read “Abercrombie and Fitch. New York, U.S.A. Complete Outfits for Explorers”. Like anyone who was a pre-teen and teenager in the mid-2000s, I am very familiar with Abercrombie and Fitch as it exists today. I had no idea, however, that it originated as a sporting goods store that outfitted the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, and Ernest Shackleton on their outdoor adventures. It provided these types of goods from 1892 until the 1970s before transforming into the trendy fashion purveyor that I grew up with.
With the attic finished, so too came the end of my time working in the Moore Home. Below is a stack of catalogue records of all the objects that I inventoried or catalogued over my eight months in the home. These paper records used to be the only records that the museum kept but with the technology we have today they exist simply as a backup in case our electronic records are ever lost. And with that, my dispatches from the Moore Home are done! Stay tuned for posts from the next leg of my next project: the home of Peter and Catharine Whyte!