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  • Writer's pictureNLPB Pharmacy Museum

Transformation Tuesday: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

We hope you're having a wonderful February so far!

This month, the theme of our work here at the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Museum has been 'slow and steady wins the race'. There have been some unavoidable interruptions to our regular programming, but we've still made some decent progress on our goals.

Our first success was cleaning and stocking a set of shelves downstairs, which stores our office supplies at the moment but will eventually be where we store seasonal decorations and cleaning supplies.

On the left is the right half of a small set of stairs with grey carpets and a brown railing. The floors are concrete. There is a small white dehumidifier by the stairs, with a white fan behind it. There is a set of stacked shelves on the right against a wall. The shelves are mostly empty, with just a couple binders and a mail organizer. There is a small table with cleaning supplies at the foreground of the picture.
The freshly-cleaned set of shelves that lives just at the bottom of the stairs. Look at the potential!

This corner of our collections space was one of the areas that hadn't been touched for decades, and as such it had accumulated a lot of junk. Some of it we can add to our collection, and some of it can be used to help us figure out the provenance of some of our existing artifacts, but most of it needed to be removed and disposed of.

A brown staircase railing is in the foreground at the bottom left of the picties. In the back against the wall is the same shelf as in the last picture, but front-on rather than at a 45 degree angle. On the shelves are now papers, binders, and organizers. There are cardboard boxes on the bottom shelves, and a christmas tree behing the stair's railing. A small mobile desk is in the right back corner against the shelves, with cleaning supplies on top.
A little attention can make all the difference.

Though I forgot to take pictures of what it looked like before any cleaning took place, you can see the difference that even putting things in their proper place makes.

A cluttered room. Boxes are on the grey concrete floor, and there is brownish water collected in the back half of the floor, which is about an inch lower than the rest. There are filing cabinets in that waterlogged part of the floor, as well as cluttered cleaning supplies and more boxes.
The dreaded leak. You can see the file cabinets against the walls, and the flooding in the indented part of the floor.

The second part of this months' progress was supposed to be in the collections space itself. In late January there was a leak in the holding area, between where these shelves are and where the bulk of our collections live. In the scope of having leaks happen, this was an ideal place; the only objects in that area were already slated for disposal by the third-party we were holding them for.

A picture at a 45 degree angle. The floor is brownish grey, and there's a series of mops in a red bucked resting against the back wall, which is grey-painted concrete. The far wall to the right is grey-painted wood panelling. There are some cardboard boxes in the front right corner, an the ceiling is exposed beams and wires.
The same area, but empty! It still needs work, but it's certainly much better than it was.

It's a little difficult to see, as the only picture we have of before was centered on the leak, but the whole back wall used to be lined with office filing cabinets. The potential of this space is great! We plan to get rubber mats for the indented portion of floor, for cleaning and flood-protection purposes, and we'll install a series of shelves to hold our collections materials and some artifacts.

A corner of the collections space. There are wooden pallet shelves at the back, filled with cardboard boxes. There are cardboard boxes on the floor, filled with brown and blue books.
The affected artifacts are here on the floor, beside some other boxes we're storing that don't have artifacts in them.

When this leak happened we moved the affected objects into a safe corner of our collections space in order to give the workers enough space to move around. The leak was fixed, and some progress was made - the old, decayed file cabinets were removed from the area, freeing the whole thing up for us to make eventual improvements! This was a big win for us, as it meant that we finally had the space to move some things around, in order to really start the process of Collections Organization. You might already recognize this picture from our Instagram, and if you don't, you should go follow us over there!

Two cardboard boxes of blue hardcover books with yellow post-its on the top. The closer one reads 'I'm trashy' and the further one reads 'humpty dump-me'.
These books - which do not belong to us, and are not part of the collection - have been slated for disposal. Why not have some fun labelling them?

Now, as you can see, we've marked the correct boxes for disposal and we're waiting on them to be removed. The next step is to move a small bookcase from inside the collections space into the newly-cleaned holding area. This will involve removing everything from the shelves, assessing whether or not it's valuable to the collection, and either moving it to an appropriate area of the collections space or slating it for accession/deaccession.

It's surprising to those who don't have experience working in collections, but even the simple act of moving a bookshelf in a museum involves eight or nine other processes that always require documentation.

That's it for this month's progress. It's been slower than we'd like, but we've also made great strides with our social media presence, which is a big win for a team of two. Overall, we're happy with our progress, and we hope you learned something about how museums work!

Thank you for reading, and we look forward to talking to you soon,

~ Drew, Collections Assistant

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