Plains Indian Artifacts 

Hershey Story Museum

HISTORIC OVERVIEW

Conserved Native American Artifacts on ExhibitThe artifacts in this collection are thought to represent several different tribes of Native Americans that once inhabited the central plains of North America. The Plains Indians, as they were collectively called, made up two differing groups that could be categorized as nomadic and semi nomadic cultures. While there was some degree of overlap in the movements of each individual Indian Nation, it is commonly agreed that nomadic nations depended heavily on hunting and those who were sedentary depended heavily on agriculture. Yet, for all Plains Indians, the bison was elemental to their survival in that, aside from food, the animal was the chief source for clothing, crafting, tools, knives, and decorations. The culture of the Plains Indian was very religious in nature—believing all things to have a spirit—and often worshiped daily trusting that their faith would be rewarded with strength. They also felt that the Great Spirit, or Wakan Tanka, would bless certain objects with spiritual power. Some of these items included rocks, feathers and most importantly, their shield—as it was the most prized possession of any warrior. Aside from their religious fervor, the Plains Indians were a proud and a nationally unified people.


PRE-TREATMENT CONDITION

Native American War Bonnet During TreatmentThese objects were part of a Native American Exhibit for the Hershey Story Museum in Hershey, PA and were in need of treatment prior to their exhibition. B.R. Howard & Associates was contracted to prepare these artifacts for exhibit. The objects were subsequently transferred to our studious for treatment. Upon receipt, each individual artifact was thoroughly documented and a condition report was produced. The condition of the objects was collectively unstable due to varying degrees of deterioration, color fading, staining, insect damage, desecration, crizzling, and/or corrosion. Additionally, these objects were all covered in a layer of dust and dirt.

 

TREATMENT

Native American Breastplate After TreatmentThough the treatment of these objects varied somewhat in methodology and depth, the overall process for each one was very similar. The objects were first cleaned using a low suction vacuum system. Where appropriate, the objects were also cleaned using deionized water and specialized cleaning solutions. In some areas of deterioration or breakage, reversible acrylic emulsion adhesives were used in conjunction with woven polyester monofilaments. Areas of corrosion were slightly polished and coated with an appropriate resin. Glass beads were cleaned using either a slight enzymatic solution or other specialized cleaning product. Material that had been lost was reproduced—with permission of the curatorial staff—using matching materials. Once complete, the objects were returned to the Hershey Story for exhibition and the organization was provided with detailed reports on each object’s individual treatment.

 


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