It’s bad enough to pack your own belongings when you move from one house to another—but packing museum objects? It’s terrifying and can even be tedious at times. Thankfully, no object will actually leave the house, they will just be shifted from room to room as the restoration team makes its way through.
So far, Lorie and I have packed at least 45% of the 11, 000 objects that are displayed in Villa Finale. There are some things that we cannot pack, like clocks with lots of parts and very delicate objects like wooden “Santos” figures with flakey paint. And since we must pack in boxes we can move safely, we must find safe places for very tall objects which do not fit in any practical-sized box.
Every object we pack has an accession number, and we have created lists noting the contents of each box using the numbers. Every box has a number, as well. Unpacking should not be too terrible. We have photographs, room shots and “shelf and table” shots which will enable us to place each object exactly where Mr. Mathis left it. Lorie, who worked with Mr. Mathis for four years, took copious photographs of rooms, table-tops, and even the interiors of drawers and closets right after he passed away. These photos are an incredibly valuable resource for collections staff and interpretation staff alike.
This is one wall of the kitchen before packing:
All of Mr. Mathis’s Wedgwood was not packed, but placed in glass fronted cabinets in the bar, which was packed. Sometimes the cameos on the Wedgwood are high relief and are at risk of catching on packing material—these are better left unpacked.
We also did not pack Mr. Mathis’s apothecary jars full of “historic” pasta, spices or dried peas, but placed them in a cabinet, too, for the duration of the restoration. It’s best not to flirt with the danger of escaping foodstuffs and inevitably face four- to six-legged visitors.
We made the decision long ago that the dried foodstuff will be displayed as it always has been in the kitchen, perhaps refreshed occasionally with new, identical pasta or peppercorns. The kitchen is a more interesting room knowing that Mr. Mathis actually cooked in here!
Here’s the kitchen with the shelf almost empty:
I will pack prints and platters and a few other flat things today and think about a location for the collection of ten canes…