When visitors come to Banting House, they see everything as it should be – artifacts set neatly in gleaming exhibits, ready to be seen. However, as I discovered this morning, that isn’t always the case! Working away in our offices, Grant (the curator of the museum) and I heard a crash one morning this week. After frantically searching the museum for the source of the noise, we realized one of Banting’s Nobel Prize replicas had fallen from its stand and onto the bottom of its plastic case. I had been expecting an item to fall at some time or another this year, but it was still terrifying!
Cases of artifacts falling and becoming damaged in the process can have disastrous consequences. One of the worst ever recorded was the destruction of the statue Adam, a Venetian Renaissance masterpiece by Tullio Lombardo, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. In 2002, the wooden base on which the sculpture rested broke, causing it to fall and shatter into hundreds of pieces. This is a museum’s worst nightmare.
Luckily, our artifact was a little easier to fix. The ‘museum glue’, a type of water soluble wax which helps keep artifacts on their bases, was getting old and had simply fallen apart. After taking apart the case, Grant and I were able to re-attach the Nobel Prize replica without any damage to the artifact or the base. There are procedures in place in case of incidents like this, but thankfully, they don’t happen too often! It’s all part of the crazy and exciting life behind the scenes at a house museum. With only four weeks left, my time here is almost half over, and I can barely believe it – it’s gone so quickly! I look forward to sharing more of my adventures here at the Banting House before my time is up – I’m sure there will be many more!
This post was written by Kylie Smith. Kylie specializes in Honours History and minors in anthropology at The University of Western Ontario.