Collection Feature – Hats off to hat mounts!

Story by Dr. Katie Knowles

Green Velvet Hat

We often present a recently accessioned object in our newsletter, but this time we thought we would share a bit about how we take care of the objects that are already in our collection. Making sure the objects are safely stored is an ongoing project. For many of our apparel accessories such as hats, purses, and shoes, custom mounts for each object are the best solution to support the unique shapes and materials of each one.

Making mounts is an important skill for anyone interested in a museum collections career. During the Spring 2019 semester, graduate students in Avenir Curator Dr. Katie Knowles’s course “Care and Exhibit of Museum Collections” learned to create custom storage mounts for hats in a workshop led by community volunteer Marcella Wells.

Special supplies that help keep objects stabilized without causing damage such as staining or deterioration are needed for proper mounts. Funds from The Institute for Learning and Teaching Service-Learning Faculty Mini-Grant were used to purchase these materials.

In gathering informal course feedback, several students stated that the hat mounting project was their favorite part of the semester. They enjoyed the hands-on experience of building mounts and overcoming the unique challenges presented by each different hat in terms of its structure and condition.

Thanks to the team effort from students, volunteers, and institutional funds, we now have 42 new hat storage mounts! The hats are better supported structurally, allowing for increased use in exhibitions and in future courses to help us fulfill our mission of teaching the community and our students about the history of clothing and textiles.

As you can tell from this one small project, it takes a lot of people with special training and supplies to help our Curator and Collections Manager care for the more than 20,000 objects in our collection!