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SACO MUSEUM RECEIVES TWO PRESTIGIOUS CONSERVATION GRANTS

The Saco Museum has received two conservation grants from government agencies for projects that will help the museum to care for its collections. With funds from the State of Maine's New Century Community Program, the Maine State Museum has awarded the Saco Museum $1,900 to improve facilities housing its historical archive collections. And the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), through its American Heritage Preservation program, has awarded $2,972 for the Saco Museum to purchase equipment to monitor the environment of its exhibitions and storage areas.

"These projects demonstrate the Saco Museum's dedication to preservation and to safeguarding its collections," said Leslie Rounds, executive director of the Dyer Library Association, which is the Saco Museum's parent institution. "We're grateful that the state of Maine and the federal government share our commitment and support these activities."

The funds from the New Century Community grant will be used to rehouse historical documents and ledgers in the Saco Museum's collection. The documents reflect everyday life in Maine from the 1700s through the early 1900s. A diverse range of materials is represented, including diaries, personal and business ledgers, church records, sermons, letters, ship records, mill records and store receipts. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap says a recent report to the Maine Legislature indicated that many of Maine's historical collections (photographs, paintings, natural history collections, letters, etc.) are in danger of being lost to mold, fire, theft, or misuse. "Maine has an estimated 200 million historical objects and records, many in facilities with little or no security, fire protection, or environmental controls. Maine people in local government, historical societies, and libraries are seeking help to preserve our heritage." Joseph R. Phillips, Museum Director of the Maine State Museum, noted: "These grants support community efforts to preserve and share the stories of our people, our towns, our families and how we lived our lives. Without these objects and buildings, important pieces of our Maine heritage would be lost."

The funds from the IMLS will be used to purchase and install new humidity and temperature data loggers in the Saco Museum's exhibition and storage areas, along with the necessary compatible software and equipment. A hand-held light meter and Blue Scale Textile Fading cards, which are used to measure the impact of light on objects, will also be purchased with grant funds. Grant funds will also support two days of onsite training for Saco Museum staff in the use of the new equipment by objects conservator Ronald S. Harvey, based in Lincolnville, Maine. These activities are informed by the Saco Museum's successful completion of a Conservation Assessment in 2008, funded by Heritage Preservation and the IMLS.

"With these awards, communities will be able to rescue exceptional objects that link their pasts to their futures," said Anne-Imelda M. Radice, IMLS Director. "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 grants are used by small museums, libraries, and archives to help to preserve specific items, including works of art, artifacts and historical documents that are 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, and underscore the importance of assessment planning.

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.

For more information about the Historical Facilities Grant Program, call the Cultural Resources Information Center at (207) 287-7591 or e-mail maine.cric@maine.gov. To learn more about the Institute of Museum and Library Services, please visit www.imls.gov or contact Jeannine Mjoseth at (202) 653-4632 or jmjoseth@imls.gov.