WAACNewsletter
Volume 13, Number 2, May 1991, p.29

WAAC to publish a handling guide for use in anthropology museums

by Elizabeth C. Welsh

WAAC is in the final stages of preparing for publication a manual written by Nancy Odegaard entitled, A Guide to Handling Anthropological Museum Collections. The guide is for researchers, volunteers, students, and any other users of anthropological collections who have not received training in contemporary practices for handling museum artifacts.

A Guide to Handling Anthropological Museum Collections is expected to be available by this summer. Current WAAC members will receive a copy of the handling guide as part of WAAC membership.

Nancy wrote the handbook in 1987 for use within the Arizona State Museum. Grace Katterman, a student at the Univ. of Arizona, created humorous sketches to illustrate Nancy's text.

The handling guide proved popular. As copies left the Arizona State Museum, Nancy received frequent requests from other institutions for the manual, and many copies were distributed in this way. In 1989, Nancy suggested to the WAAC Board that our organization might wish to publish the booklet. The WAAC Board of Directors agreed to this in 1989 and reaffirmed their position in 1990. Sponsoring the publication of the guide was seen as a service to the museum field, making more broadly available a book that furthers conservation awareness in a manner that "field trials" had shown was successful.

The text has been edited by Elizabeth C. Welsh to make it applicable to anthropological museums and collecting institutions other than Arizona State Museum. Lesley Bone, Elisabeth Cornu, Eric F. Hansen, Chris Stavroudis and Patricia Tuttle-Leavengood reviewed the edited text and made further revisions. Chris Stavroudis is in the process of redesigning the publication.

A pleasing side note: Some conservators familiar with the book suggested it be taken on an upcoming Fulbright-sponsored trip to be made by a group of US conservators to Central America. Although the newly edited version of the book is still not completely ready for the printer, the text is presently being translated into Spanish (a service initiated and arranged by the Smithsonian's Office of Museum Programs) and a set of Spanish- text handling guides is expected to be prepared for this trip to Central America. The English version of the book includes a description of WAAC on the copyright page; this will also be included in the Spanish-language copies, and it may help increase familiarity with WAAC among our Latin American colleagues.

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