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Grant number: PG-52520-15

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University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA 52242-1320)
Cindy Opitz (Project Director: May 2014 to present)

Upgrading Supports and Storage for the Arctic Ethnographic Collections at the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History

Purchase of storage supplies, including cabinets and environmental monitoring equipment, to preserve a collection of 1,500 artifacts associated with two early and well-documented expeditions to the Arctic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The two ethnographic collections, which include clothing, tools, eating and drinking vessels, ornaments, and some examples of carved ivory, provide rich documentation of life among Arctic populations at the time.  The expeditions are also well described in the writings of the two explorers, which provide extensive documentation on the collections and their provenance.  The collections are used in exhibits, by researchers, and by faculty and students in anthropology, art history, English, and museum studies.

Arctic material collected by Frank Russell in 1892-1894 and by Vilhjalmur Stefansson in 1908-1912 is among the highlights of the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History’s collections. The Arctic ethnographic collections contain over 1,500 artifacts, including ivory, beadwork, tools, clothing, weapons, ornaments, and other objects representing cultures such as Cree, Athabascan, Inuit, and Dog Rib. They are an important resource for research and education about the ethnography, history, and art of northern peoples in North America. The collections are currently housed in a mix of new and old cabinets or on open shelving with poor environmental control. Some objects lack individual supports, causing degradation in storage and making handling them more difficult. This project will create individual supports and enclosures for objects and upgrade cabinets, aiding long-term preservation and protecting the collection from continued deterioration.

Project fields:
Cultural Anthropology; Cultural History; Interdisciplinary Studies, Other

Preservation Assistance Grants

Preservation and Access

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2015 – 6/30/2016