Kitsap County museum will be upgraded in Bremerton

The Kitsap County Historical Society Museum in Bremerton is just weeks away from beginning a major remodel of its storage areas.

Planned improvements will more than double storage space, improve preservation of valuable artifacts and improve security. The cost will be about $210,000, said project director and society board member, Nina Hallett.

The money’s coming from three sources: a state heritage grant of $70,000 received last summer, a $70,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation just received, and $70,000 to be raised by the society.

The society’s contribution constitutes a “one-third match” and must be in place before the grants are released. The society is close enough to raising its share of the money to start the project in about six weeks.

“It’s just going to be so nice when it’s done,” said Hallett. She said state grant requirements stipulate the project must be finished by June 30, 2003.

The new “high-density mobile shelving system” planned for the basement of the museum on Fourth Street is a professional-grade storage system composed of a series of shelves on tracks.

“You can stack the shelves up against each other and then move them apart to create an aisle,” explained Hallett, “You only really need one aisle for a series of shelving units.”

The shelving would be custom made to fit under the basement’s low ceiling, and would overlap at the top and seal up tightly when stacked together.

“This overlapping will help keep out light, dust and pests, the three leading causes of damage to museum holdings,” she said.

Hallett and Gail Campbell-Ferguson, curator, recently gave the Bremerton Patriot a tour of the museum’s basement storage area to highlight deficiencies.

Currently, artifacts are stored on old metal shelves which make inefficient use of available space. The new system would include drawers and adjustable shelving.

There’s also a general shortage of shelving and many artifacts are simply stacked against the walls, particularly bulky or heavy objects. With the new shelving, heavy objects can be placed on low bottom shelves which are at the right hight for dollies, said Hallett.

“It’ll be easier for us to move heavy things on and off shelves,” said Hallett.

The remodel will be done in two stages: Textiles and three-dimensional artifacts will be done first, then “archival” material, which includes paper items such as maps, charts and books, as well as photographs and negatives.

Museum holdings will be temporarily stored elsewhere at an undisclosed location until the remodel is complete, said Hallett. It’s estimated it will take six weeks to clear out the section containing artifacts and textiles for the first stage of the remodel.

The museum’s textiles collection is impressive, said the curator.

“There’s a lot of interest in dresses and textiles,” said Campbell-Ferguson. “We have table cloths, hats, shoes.... Everything from racoon coats to a wedding dress set from the 1850s that includes a beautiful silk dress, shoes and hat.”

She said that ironically, what the museum lacks are examples of common clothing.

“People always save the valuable stuff, but we don’t have a single pair of jeans,” she said. Antique Levis command high prices at auction because most people simply threw them away after wearing them out.

“Clothing doesn’t have to be old to be valuable,” said the curator. “What you and I are wearing today will be valuable for historical reasons tomorrow.”

She explained that with the new shelving system, the museum will have enough room to start collecting contemporary every day clothing.

The museum building at 280 Fourth St. was purchased by the society in 1995. It was originally built in 1950 to house the Bremerton branch of Seattle First National Bank. The society has been renovating the building continuously since.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates