Thursday, October 27, 2011

Who's Who at the Tenement: Meet the Collections Manager

Collections Manager and Registrar Kathleen O’Hara is one of the newest additions to the Tenement team. Kathleen completed a Master’s in Museum Studies at George Washington University. She has worked at the National Archives and interned at Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, DC.

Most recently, she helped catalogue an impressive treasure trove at Museum Village in Orange County New York, which houses a collection of objects running the gamut from tractors and carriages to molding planes and archival documents.

Kathleen expertly creates order from chaos, cataloguing and identifying objects to determine their age, condition, and needs for preservation. With her diverse experience, Kathleen is well suited to work with the Tenement Museum’s collection, which includes everything from kitchen tools to clothing, wallpaper and furniture—and even a few snacks.

Working behind the scenes, Kathleen cares for the Museum's collection
So far, Kathleen has devoted most of her time to the biggest and most important object in our collection: the Tenement at 97 Orchard Street. She treats the building just as she does smaller objects, gauging its health and vitality and keeping track of its changes.

Currently, Kathleen's working on environmental monitoring to track the changing temperatures and humidity levels inside the building, which have a huge impact on its structural integrity. She'll also be monitoring traffic, both the trucks going by on Delancey Street, and the feet going up the stairs at 97 Orchard. Whether it’s human or mechanical, all traffic creates vibrations that affect the building’s health. By measuring the impact of these environmental factors, Kathleen can determine how to keep the building healthy for many years (and many thousands of visitors) to come.

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