The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum opened on June 12, 1939 in Cooperstown, New York. Its mission was and is to preserve history, honor excellence and connect generations through memorabilia from the past and present. This institution is recognized as the country's most popular sports shrine and is considered the definitive repository of the game's treasures. The Hall of Fame consists of the museum and gallery, and the library and research center. Its centerpiece, however, is the museum and the associated plaque gallery that stands as a memorial to all of baseball's Hall of Famers. The museum, recently renovated, provides a plethora of exhibits that take the visitor through time from the beginning of baseball to the present with exhibits such as Taking the Field: The 19th Century, Pride and Passion: The African-American Experience, and Sacred Ground. The latter exhibit examines ballparks with more than 200 artifacts and numerous displays.
B.R. Howard & Associates, Inc. has had an ongoing working relationship with the Baseball Hall of Fame for several years and has managed the treatment of several artifacts, specifically leather objects including baseball gloves and cleats. Because of the number of the objects conserved for the Baseball Hall of Fame and due to the similar condition of each object treated, it would be illogical to list out each project individually. Therefore a general account of these pieces, their condition prior to treatment, and the treatment affected by B.R. Howard & Associates will be given herein.
When the objects from the Baseball Hall of Fame were received into the studios of B.R. Howard & Associates, they were immediately documented using high detail digital imagery. Their condition was reassessed and appropriate treatments determined. As discussed above, the objects conserved for the Hall of Fame consisted mainly of leather artifacts such as baseball gloves and cleats. In almost every case, these artifacts shared the same condition: Dry, brittle and distorted, or sticky and heavily oiled. The simple explanation for this condition is that leather, over time, has the tendency to spew oil. This means that oil within the fibers of the leather begins to leach out to the surface. This causes the leather to dry out and to become brittle. As the leather dries out, it loses its form and becomes misshapen. In addition, some of the artifacts had leather that had either failed completely or had been torn. With the condition assessed, B.R. Howard & Associates was prepared to provide the necessary treatment to conserve the objects.
All of the baseball gloves and cleats were first extensively cleaned using a special type of soap deigned specifically for leather. The leather was then cleaned again, this time using mineral spirits in order to remove any remaining oily secretions which allowed the objects to then be re-humidified. The fragile or torn leather components were repaired and color matched with the surrounding intact leather. The shape of the objects were restored by creating hand shaped or foot shaped foam mounts, covered in a protective fabric, and inserting them into the object. Each individual object was then packaged and returned to the Baseball Hall of Fame for storage or exhibition.
Here are some of the more notable objects conserved by B.R. Howard & Associates, Inc. for the Baseball Hall of Fame: