IMLS Awards Grant to General Lew Wallace Study for Archive Storage

Logo of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which provided a grant for artifact preservationThanks to a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), General Lew Wallace’s personal artifacts from the Civil War will have a long-lasting resting place.

Artifact Storage

The IMLS has awarded the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum a $3000 American Heritage Preservation Program grant for the stabilization and storage of many of General Wallace and his wife Susan’s personal effects, including clothing, the General’s Civil War saddle, and a drum first used in the Mexican War.

“We are excited to be one of the first recipients of this beneficial new grant program,” said Museum Director Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. “This reminds us how important Wallace’s library and mementos are to American history.”

“With these awards, communities will be able to rescue exceptional objects that link their pasts to their futures,” said IMLS Director Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice. “This grant program is an important part of IMLS’s Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action, a multi-year, multi-pronged initiative to protect our national treasures.”

American Heritage Preservation Program

American Heritage Preservation Program grants are used by small museums, libraries, and archives to help to preserve specific items. These items include works of art, artifacts, and historical documents in need of conservation. Applicants will build on completed conservation assessments of their collections, to ensure that the grants are used in accordance with best practices in the field. According to the Heritage Health Index report, nearly 190 million objects in U.S. collections are in immediate danger of deterioration.

Some of the items in danger of deteriorating are a Zouave uniform from the 11th Indiana Volunteers, which Wallace led off to war in 1861, the dress worn by Susan Wallace when she was presented at the Court of St. James in London, and six kilim and Navajo rugs collected by the Wallaces during their travels throughout the American Southwest. These items were displayed for years in the Study building where they were exposed to extreme fluctuations in temperature, humidity, and ultraviolet radiation.

Artifact Deterioration

“Unfortunately, putting an historical object on public display is one of the worst things you can do to it,” said Catlin-Legutko. “Exposure to sunlight, humidity, and temperature highs and lows—all of which have been present in the Study building at one time or another—cause an object to degrade a lot faster than if it was properly archived. We want to make sure General Wallace’s personal mementos are still around for our children’s children to see.”

Many of the original items will be displayed for the final time this year, during the Museum’s Embattled: General Wallace’s Leadership in the Civil War exhibit, opening March 21 and continuing through December 13, 2009. After the exhibit, many of the items will be “retired” into proper archival storage in the Carriage House Interpretive Center, where a state-of-the-art artifact storage vault has been erected.

Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit:

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