There are several reasons why I enjoy my job as curator here at the Museum of the Albemarle. For one, I get to research great topics.
Recently we borrowed two ice shavers that is be on display in our newest exhibit Memorable Sands, from members of the Bogues family of Camden County. These ice shavers included their manufacture’s name, but little else.
With the help of a fellow staff member, we found the patent for one which dated to 1935. The second was a little more difficult.
I am constantly amazed at what you can find on the Internet with a little digging. I found more information on the second ice shaver by viewing issues of “The Billboard” magazine. Many of you probably know that this magazine featured musicians, artists, and the top 10 lists. I quickly found out that it also featured items for sale such as ice shavers, bumper cars, roller coasters, “whip cars,” and roller rinks.
I get to be the person who receives the call when someone is remodeling or tearing down a house. I am asked to come over and see if the museum would like to have anything for its collection.
A few weeks ago I was asked to come to a house in Chowan County. What I found was very exciting and significant. Items from the 1930s and earlier such as a brush and comb set, pocketbooks, lard stands, milk scales, and Mutt and Jeff toys that were available for the Museum to consider.
I left the residence wanting almost everything. However, I have to research each and every item to make sure no other museum in the state system has a similar item. Then I have to determine the item’s history including its date and who used it.
After the research, I make a second trip to pick up the items the donor and I agree upon. When they finally reach the museum, the items are immediately tagged, photographed, measured, condition recorded, and cleaned.
One of my favorite tasks is thinking of exhibit storylines and researching the topic. Sometimes topics fall in our laps such as with the Memorable Sands exhibit. Just like the house visit above, I was called by a historian who had a collection of artifacts from Chowan Beach in Hertford County.
He was offering to us advertisement posters, tickets, and signs. This led us to the idea for an exhibit featuring African American beaches. Research was initiated to find out more about this beach and others like it in the Albemarle region. In addition to those artifacts, we found more including the ice shavers stated above, benches, tables, and jukeboxes that we could borrow for the exhibit.
The next exhibit opening here at the Museum of the Albemarle will feature the Museum’s vast collection of postcards. However, we have added a slight twist, it will be three dimensional. Look for it in May, and don’t forget your 3-D glasses!