history pragmatic historian preservation

In Memory of Denis P. Gardner

Denis P. Gardner was Minnesota’s National Register Historian. It was a role that was perfect for him because he was so passionate and particular about documenting Minnesota’s historic places. I had the honor of getting to know Denis by serving on the State Review Board, which reviews nominations of Minnesota properties to the National Register of Historic Places. The State Review Board and National Register Historian fall under the auspices of the State Historic Preservation…

Continue reading

family history observations pragmatic historian preservation

The Quirks of Our House

As I sift through and pack things in our home for our eventual move, I’m trying to look at the house from the perspective of new owners. We’ve made a great many improvements to the place since we moved in roughly 29 years ago. We gutted, insulated, rewired, and sheetrocked most of the old part of the house, which was built in 1894. We also removed the rotted front porch (trust me when I tell…

Continue reading

history law museums pragmatic historian preservation

Taking History Seriously

I am irritated. I read a story on NPR News about a Pennsylvania guy who stole artifacts, mostly firearms, from about a dozen museums in the 1960s and ’70s. He got caught in 2018 after trying to sell one of the guns. His sentence? One day. One. Day. I am irritated because this sentence shows how unseriously the courts, and by extension, society in general, take thefts from museums. Oh, well, it’s just an artifact,…

Continue reading

observations pragmatic historian preservation tips

The Places We Rarely Clean

We have needed a new kitchen faucet for a few years now. We got some fancy-dancy spray faucet the last time and eventually lost water pressure because the aerator was blocked. We tried cleaning it with vinegar and were unsuccessful. We also attempted to remove the aerator so we could replace it without replacing the entire faucet. We didn’t want to have to throw the faucet in a landfill. Unfortunately, the aerator was not removable…

Continue reading

history museums pragmatic historian preservation

The Museum of Loaned Artifacts – For Reals!

After publishing last week’s post about a thought experiment regarding setting up a history museum that has no collection but uses short-term loans, I got some feedback on LinkedIn. David Grabitske (yes, him again!) said he knew of someone who was part of such a museum. The museum of loaned artifacts – for reals! –  is the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas. Tom Wancho, exhibit planner for the museum, said in our…

Continue reading