Not only do we prepare the historic buildings, the Museum and office buildings, but we also prepare the historical collections/artifacts and the living collections/garden plants.
By June 1 of every year, the curatorial staff has completed updating all of our artifact and living collections inventory, and that includes the actual inventory, and also photographs of the site. One of our most interesting semi-annual inventories is the plant inventory that is completed by Plant Curator, Britta Soderqvist. It is available on our website, and of course stored offsite and in “the cloud.” Our important specimen historical trees are also insured.
I included a page from Britta’s report which is testimony to her care, concern and knowledge. Britta also regularly leads the garden tours (after summer school break) and is a regular lecturer here at Edison Ford.
Part of the process for the living collection is the stormscaping of the landscape and plantings. Many of our members attended the excellent lecture last month by our staff and noted arborist, Rick Joyce, which provided detailed information on pruning and preparation for the “stormy season.” For us, stormscaping is completed by June 1, the start of hurricane season, with regular attention throughout the summer and fall months.
For our non-living collections, the same process happens. All of the historical and non-historical structures are photographed, inventoried and entered into a system called The Smart System which includes the historical treatments and photographs of every provenance item. The artifacts are also included in this photo update. Upper floors are already prepared for window damage and our new system for the shutters on the homes enables us to simply close the shutters with the back side made of hurricane rated materials.
Larger historical collections, like the antique automobiles, are moved offsite at the first sign of a major storm. The most fragile pieces of porch furniture are already in the garages, much like the Edison and Ford families would have done. As the summer progresses, larger furniture pieces are moved out of the houses, like the Edison piano, which will be displayed in the Museum. Display of smaller pieces in the historic buildings is reduced during the summer months, as in case of a storm, all of the furniture is removed from the historic buildings. That’s quite a drill for us as it involves moving vans, curatorial staff with gloves and carts, and “all hands on deck.”
We have a new program in place this year with the addition of “a virtual tour” of the property available in the Museum on stormy days. This “virtual tour” takes the visitor through each of the stops on the walking tour and presents it in the Museum. The virtual tour will include some work with artifacts and a great virtual tour with the historian tour guides. Participants will be able to return with a free ticket on non-stormy days, but at least they are able to tour virtually on stormy days.
Our advice to visitors (especially during the stormy months) is to call ahead and talk with someone about the weather conditions and special offerings, as we are open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. As our members know, we are an old fashioned place with staff and volunteers answering phones to direct and answer questions.