Expert Lends a Helping Hand

Catherine Tully recently completed graduate degree in conservation of antiquities at University College London; after working in the Middle East for a year, she found herself in Spokane for a few weeks this summer and offered her expertise to the museum.  In the photos, Catherine repairs a vase from the Campbell House in the Secret Life of an Artifact gallery while students visiting from Madison Elementary look on. Cathy spent her time at the Northwest Museum working with 20th century plastics, Mexican masks and other items from the collection in need of her attention. Preservation is ongoing in every Museum and we at the Northwest Museum are constantly working to prolong the lives of our historic treasures.


A New Roof Rejuvenates an Old Home

It began this Monday, June 27th 2016, as a roofing crew converged on the 118 year old Campbell House. This historic edificephoto 10 is seeing its first major face lift in this decade and we are along for the ride.

It isn’t the first time the home of the late mining magnate Amasa Campbell has been a construction zone. In fact since its donation to the Eastern Washington Historic Society in 1924 the house has undergone several restoration projects in the interest of preservation.

Designed by Kirtland Cutter and constructed in 1898, this 13,000 sq ft home is a treasure to the community and has served as the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture’s only permanent exhibit.

The previous roof reached the end of its life after nearly 25 years protecting museum goers from the elements. Both roofs were restored in 1991-1992, with highest quality cedar shingles and installation methods. Code required fire retardant treatment; that didn’t allow preservative coatings to extend shingle life. By 2015 the roof shingles were curling and splitting badly. photo 15.JPG

Historic restoration requires use of materials that match or resemble the original. Sometimes new materials are better, so we explored non-wood shingle alternatives. However, none resembled the original look accurately; also, the original rafter/sheathing systems would not support cement shingle weight.

The 2 roofs total 15,000 square feet and require 150 squares (100 sq ft per square) of shingles.

During a 1992 Carriage House roof restoration, sheathing showed locations of 2 original dormers (on either side of the south roof peak). A circa 1900 photo below shows the missing dormers, as well as the larger dormers still intact today. The smaller dormers had been removed by the 1940s, likely due to maintenance issues. We are not currently replacing the missing dormers, but their exact locations will be marked on 2016 roof drawings for future restoration planning.L91-120.22-full view

The image below shows the location of the original dormers to the Carriage House.

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A Museum Staple Retired

After two years on display in the main gallery, the Wells Fargo stagecoach is headed back
to museum storage via First Avenue.770 (2)

Painted in the popular red and yellow colors, this stagecoach made its first trip in 1872 ; for the next thirty years it provided passenger and mail service between the Great Divide and Bannock and Gibbonsville, ID.

Stagecoaches offered speedy and important connections to areas without rail service for passengers and goods alike. They traveled rough roads through all kinds of weather and risked hold-ups for the gold and silver that 770 (1)they often carried.  For safety, a man armed with a shotgun rode beside the driver. Continue reading “A Museum Staple Retired”

Preservation; Highlighting a Museum Treasure

Reproduction copies of Canova’s famous 1787 sculpture, “Psyche Revived By The Kiss of Eros,” (original sculpture is in the Louvre), were made throughout the 19th century. The Campbell family likely purchased this copy during their European travels in 1903 or 1909. This sculpture appears in photographs of the Campbell House Library around 1910.  The sculpture is in good condition, however its removable wings have been broken, poorly repaired and broken again.  Cathy Tully, trained in conservation of antiquities, recently volunteered her time and expertise to record its condition and to seek a professional conservator’s estimate for the sculpture’s repair and cleaning.  Photographs taken using only UV (black) light show evidence of old adhesives and other residue on the broken wings of Eros.

ArtFest 2016

Summer has begun and in Browne’s Addition we start summer with Art. ArtFest 2016 was a veritable smorgasbord of art and art appreciation. We were able to highlight and celebrate local artist in a fun, family friendly environment with good food and great music. While the weather was scorching we stayed cool in the shade of the pines in beautiful Coeur d’ Alene Park. The crowds were relaxed as they walked the rounds wandering through booths filled with pottery, metal work, jewelry, paintings, blown glass, and more. Adults were smiling, carrying their finds and children of all ages explored the grounds with faces painted and bedecked in jewelry of their own design fashioned by them in the Museum’s Make-it-Art tent. ArtFest and the Museum are places to enjoy and learn as well as a chance to do something new and fun with the family. The Museum is thrilled to be a part of this neighborhood and this city where art is so appreciated. While this years Artfest has come and gone the Museum doors are open all summer Tuesday-Sunday 10-5pm and Wednesdays 10-8pm.

Salvaging Sunken Treasure, in Review.

On April 16th the Museum hosted a public program with long-timeIMG_8572 treasure hunter Margaret Weller, “Lady Goldiver,”. Mrs. Weller has been salvaging Spanish galleons off the coast of Florida since the 1970s. Along with her now deceased husband, the legendary treasure seeker Bob “Frogfoot” Weller, who himself began salvaging Spanish galleons in the Florida Keys in 1960 when the 1733 Spanish fleet was first being located, has recovered enough gold, silver, jewelry and artifacts to fill a museum. She has donated several artifacts that are now part of the Museum’s Treasure! Exhibition here at the Northwest Museum until May 29th 2016.

 In this fascinating program, Margaret shared her amazing experiences working as a treasure seeker, and she showed IMG_8573off some of the artifacts she recovered. The lecture was a chance for visitors to hear a few of Lady Goldiver’s many interesting and funny stories relating to her career salvaging sunken treasure.

In one account she explained how one wreck took her and her team over a decade to recover. The contents of the ship had been spread out over 54 acres. The wreck had been caused by hurricanes dragging the ship across the ocean and dumping its contents overboard. She painted a picture of the adventure that allowed those listening to lose themselves in the excitement of a mystery unfolded. We could smell the sea air and feel the coral on our hands. Coral that had grown around the bars of silver that had sunk to the sea floor and been forgotten. The Spanish doubloons and the cannon balls mixed in among rocks and shells tantalized our imaginative senses as we heard her divulge a treasure hunter’s secret.

Treasure is still waiting for you. The artifacts tell their own story and this interactive exhibit allows one to lose themselves in the possibilities of the undiscovered world. Thousands of years of civilization has impregnated the earth with fascinating discoveries waiting to be unearthed. Start your adventure here at the Northwest Museum.

Loving History, Loving Art

Amasa Campbell and Daughter Helen

What brings a person into the museum business? Passion. It is passion that makes us seek out this work. We must earn our spot in this industry with years of education and logging long volunteer hours.

Museums like the Northwest Museum are non-profit and therefore we are in a constant flux of bringing new, innovative exhibits and recovering from the cost of them. The work is hard, and it is rewarding- we can spend months planning and perfecting an exhibit, clocking in early and out late and then listen to the harsh criticism of a few who would change it. But those voices fade amongst the cacophony of support from museum lovers.

 Passion is what museums thrive on. It is not just the passion of the workers that makes a museum run.  We are dependent on the passion of others. We are dependent on your passion, passion for art, for culture, for history.

At the Northwest Museum our mission is discovering what Spokane wants to explore. With each new exhibit proposal and each bid we are looking to find something that speaks to our city and provides a safe, fun, engaging family experience that will bring our community together.

Museums enrich our lives. My life is the Northwest Museum, come experience it with me.