- Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP)— Susannah Munson has been on a treasure hunt for the past seven years.

Surrounded each day by more than 70,000 artifacts, Munson is still surprised by the gems she finds hidden inside the University Museum’s storage building off McLafferty Road.

“Every day is kind of like Christmas out here,” Munson, anthropology curator, said. “I’ve been out here since 2007, and every day I walk past something that I’ve never seen before and wonder how I’ve been out here for seven years and didn’t see it.”

Munson can occasionally be found wandering through the archive, looking for an undiscovered piece of history to satisfy her historical curiosity.

With the University Museum in Faner Hall putting on display only 1 percent of the archive’s 70,000 artifacts at a time, the archive remains a crowded place with Melanesian totems, contemporary art, renaissance paintings, rock collections and agricultural and industrial tools sharing the facility’s limited space.

Identifying and maintaining the archives’ wide array of artifacts demands Munson’s knowledge base to be diverse.

“I would say one of the challenges of our museum is it’s an encyclopedic collection, so we don’t just specialize in one thing like art, history or science,” University Museum Director Dona Bachman said. “Susannah needs to be something of a generalist.”

A collection of Andy Warhol pieces will be put on exhibit at the museum in 2015.

The items, which include screen prints and Polaroid pictures taken at parties Warhol hosted, were provided to the archives by the Andy Warhol Foundation.

The archives’ art work ranges from early works to contemporary art.

“Our strength probably tends to be 20th century modern,” Bachman said. “But we try to have a nice representative collection because the art historians need them for their classes, and it means so much more for them to see a real work of art.”

The collection boasts works by Picasso, Renoir, Monet and Salvador Dali.

To properly store its perishable and priceless treasures, the archive has installed a climate-control system in one room and is in the process of installing a similar system in another room.

“We can completely monitor and regulate temperature and relative humidity and provide a constant setting for these works,” Bachman said. “Something like wood is more susceptible to changes in relative humidity. Anything that’s organic likes a stable environment. You really have to do something like this to sustain it year round.”

But located off campus, more than a mile away from the museum, its location is not convenient. A new museum connected to the facility is on Bachman and Munson’s wish lists.

“We’ve been in 11 different locations on campus since 1874. We’re as old as the university, and we’ve been in Faner Hall since 1974, and I sincerely hope it will not be not be our final location,” Bachman said. “It would be wonderful to have the museum connected to the storage facility, so that we didn’t have this problem of having to bring things back and forth.”

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Source: The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan, https://bit.ly/1y8mPVK

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com

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