Spring cleaning during shelter-in-place? Here are tips for preserving all your favorite things, from photos to clothes to important documents
Spring cleaning is taking on a whole new meaning while we’re all cooped up and social distancing inside. Whether you’re cleaning out your closets or that pesky home office, here are some tips from the Mint’s Library & Archives team on how to preserve the stuff you actually want to keep.
1. Always opt for cardboard storage bins
Contrary to what you see on the stocked shelves at the Container Store, cardboard boxes are usually better than plastic bins for storage. Why? Plastic bins can breed mold since they can seal in moisture. (Pro tip: You know those little packets in new shoe boxes? Those absorb moisture. Hang on them to use to throw in plastic storage bins. Just make sure to keep them away from pets and kids!)
2. With cherished papers, skip the paper clips, staples
From kids artwork on the fridge to awards and certificates, it can be hard to know how to best store our cherished paper possessions. For starters, paper is best kept flat. You’ll want to make sure you papers are unfolded and laid flat for storage. If possible, storing in acid-free file folders will help with preservation (these can be easily ordered online if you don’t have any on hand). You’ll also want to remove any paper clips or staples, as these can rust and ruin your papers. Finally, if your item is too large for a folder, rolling it up will always be better than folding.
3. Embrace acid-free paper with photo albums and scrapbooks
Photo albums and scrapbooks are another tricky item to know how to preserve. The first question here: Is everything glued down? If so, just leave it. The photos can be damaged by trying to remove them. You can add sheets of acid free paper between the pages to help prevent acid from the album pages to migrate and deteriorate your mementos. To save a few bucks, check your printer paper if you have any because it might just be acid free. Put the album in a box for extra protection.
4. Here’s how long you should keep tax and loan docs
Most of us have—but don’t want to admit to—a stack of miscellaneous papers in our homes that seem important and probably shouldn’t be thrown away. But knowing when to actually throw away that tax return or bank statement from three years ago can feel really overwhelming. As a rule of thumb, you should plan to keep tax returns for seven years, loan documents until the loan is paid off, and any one-time documents like social security cards and birth certificates forever, according to Consumer Reports.
5. With clothes and fabric, pack flat and wrap strategically
Well, Joan Crawford was right. No wire hangers! Wood, plastic, or padded hangers are a much better choice to preserve your garments. When saving older garments, they should be packed flat and wrapped in acid-free tissue. Quilts and other fabrics should be handled gently and with care, stored in a cool, dry location, and avoid any cleaning or washing if the fabrics are antiques or may have monetary or sentimental value. Read this article from the National Archives for more quilt and fabric preservation tips.
6. Embrace vampire tendencies
Whether you are storing paper, photos, or clothing, keep them out of the sun and away from heat sources to prevent fading and damage. In addition to light sources, keep your valuables away from sources of moisture or water to avoid mold. Keep away from pipes as well, as they can burst and water damage your items. Garages and basements are not the best places for storage; try keeping cherished items stored inside the house where there is more temperature control instead.
We on the Library & Archives team at the Mint know a thing or two about preservation, but this is just a primer. There are loads of online resources for every type of item you can think of. One of our favorite trusted sources is the North Carolina Preservation Consortium; the Mint is a member!
From basalt to charcoal: don’t miss this gallery-sketching time lapse inside the Mint’s ‘Classic Black’ exhibition Read More
These documentaries will help you get your art fix from home
Movies are one sure-fire way to pass the time in our new don’t-leave-the-house era. And because our passion for art doesn’t fade away in a crisis, here are a few art and design documentaries to help you get your art fix until we are able to open our doors once again.
Craft in America
The Peabody Award-winning series on PBS explores America’s creative spirit through the language and traditions of the handmade. The series takes viewers on a journey to the artists, origins and techniques of American craft. Two artists in our collection, Diego Romero and Cristina Cordova, are featured on the episode “Identity.”
Where it’s streaming: PBS. https://www.craftinamerica.org/episodes
Exit Through The Gift Shop
Talk a stroll through the ever-evolving world of street art. This documentary follows Thierry Guetta, a French native living in Los Angeles as he explores his own work, and the work of famous street artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey (whose work was featured in the Mint’s Under Construction exhibition). Street art also plays a huge role in our special exhibition Classic Black, which combines the work of local mural artist Owl with the basalt sculptures of Josiah Wedgwood.
Where it’s streaming: Amazon Prime, Google Play and digital rental services.
Abstract: The Art of Design
A look beyond blueprints and computers into the art and science of design, showcasing great designers from every discipline whose work shapes our world.
Where it’s streaming: Netflix.
Out of the Fire: The Art and Science of Ceramics
Join Dr. Alexis G. Clare, professor of glass science at the New York State College, Alfred University, on a journey of ceramics from past to present.
Where it’s streaming: PBS.
5 podcasts that make us excited about art, even if we can’t see it
Love any and all museums? Museum Confidential gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of your favorite museums. From an interview with Killer Mike, High Museum Board Member, to chatting about visitor data with Colleen Dilenschneider, this one goes out to all the proud museum nerds out there. Listen on NPR
True Crime, rivals, and shock value? No, this isn’t the next Netflix docu-series. It’s ArtCurious, an art history podcast hosted by Jennifer Dasal that is sure to delight and awe like no school art history class ever could. Listen on the ArtCurious website or via Apple podcasts
Brought to you by Hyperallergic, an art forum and website created in 2009, Art Movements podcast brings you all the up-to-date happenings from across the art world. Hosted by Hrag Vartanian, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Hyperallergic, Art Movements talks about everything from what artists need to know about taxes, to art history, to arts pop culture and everything in between. Listen on the Hyperallergic website.
14 more books to delve into while staying in during COVID-19
Inspiration for great reads keeps coming from the Mint staff. Following are 14 more books to help fill the void and curiosity while you are at home. Order print copies from local bookseller Park Road Books for curbside pickup, or find digital copies on Audible, Hoopla, and Overdrive.
Old Masters, New World: America’s Raid on Europe’s Great Pictures by Cynthia Saltzman
“This book answers the question: How did big American art museums acquire so much European art? Wealthy Gilded Age American entrepreneurs jostled with one another to collect and bring known works of art across the Atlantic — Rembrandts, Raphaels, etc.
—Joel Smeltzer, Head of School and Gallery Programs
The Popes of Avignon: A Century in Exile by Edwin Mullins
As an Italian Renaissance scholar, I have usually looked at this period in the history of the Catholic Church from the Italian perspective and not the French. Well written and a good read.
—Todd Herman, President and CEO
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
I’m spending lots of time reading to my kids these days. This week we started reading “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien to my eldest daughter. She may be a bit young for some of the material, but our family has been enjoying reading a “big girl book” nightly. It provides us all a chance to escape, and have an adventure without leaving our house — something that is becoming more challenging everyday. This copy actually belonged to my mother when she was a child, and she read it to me when I was young, so it has been well loved.
—Rebecca O’Malley, Exhibition Coordinator
The Hundred Story Home by Kathy Izard
I saw Kathy Izard speak and was so inspired by her story that I bought her book. I started reading it this week and was reminded of how helping others changes us. Her work with homelessness in the Charlotte area led to the city-wide effort to build Moore Place. This book has reminded me of the importance of listening to your inner voice. It’s helpful for us, especially now, to find ways to practice compassion – even if we have to do it with a mask on.
—Maggie Burgan, Public Programs Coordinator
Introducing the Honourable Phryne Fisher by Kerry Greenwood
The adventures of a sassy flapper in 1920s Australia who just happens to be a private detective. She’s daring, independent, and smarter than all the men around her. What’s not to like?
—Ellen Show, Archivist
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake is from the same author as A Handmaid’s Tale, and is centered around a man living in the post-apocalyptic ruins of a world he helped create, after humanity is near-entirely killed off by a bio-engineered plague. It’s the first book in the MaddAddam trilogy, and was a very good read.
—Benjamin Elrod, Graphic Designer
A Little History of The World by E.H. Gombrich
I keep this book on my nightstand. It was recommended to me by one of my favorite art history professors. It’s not filled with names and dates, but is a collection of 40 short chapters about human experience and achievement — a fairy tale-like history of the world. Perfect for young readers and fun to read aloud to smaller children.
—Maggie Burgan, Public Programs Coordinator
Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard
This enchanting book uses a mouthwatering metaphor to unlock the magic in interior spaces. The chapters delve into the hidden life of the house, rooms, nests, shells, attics and cellars. Adult readers will enjoy sharing excerpts and helpIng their family to find and savor familiar spaces. Miniatures and shells are some of my favorite chapters. (Free download available.)
—Cynthia Moreno, Director of Learning and Engagement
On Looking by Alexandria Horowitz
A walker’s guide to the art of observation. I am enjoying it because Horowitz shows is how much more there is to see if we only take the time to look.
—Diane Lowry, Guest Services Associate
My 25 Years in Provence-Reflections of Then and Now by Peter Mayle
Easy, fun read that breaks up the more academic books. Wonderfully written.
—Todd Herman, President & CEO
Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith
I always try to have one book of poetry going for when I need an escape from reality, but I only have five minutes to make the trip. Tracy K. Smith’s books have been in rotation for a while, but her Life on Mars collection is a favorite because it not only plays off her love for David Bowie, but the title is my favorite Bowie song. Also, rereading it, I’m surprised by how much it captures the hope in the bleak unpredictability of every day. Take the end of her poem, Sci-Fi:
. . . Weightless, unhinged,
Eons from even our own moon, we’ll drift
In the haze of space, which will be, once
And for all, scrutable and safe.
—Jen S. Edwards, PhD, Chief Curator and Curator or Contemporary Arts
Powership: Transform Any Situation, Close Any Deal, and Achieve Any Outcome by Daymond John of ABC’s Shark Tank
I have followed Daymond’s career and wanted to hear his advice on taking control of your destiny. So far it’s been lots of good tips and advice on how to make connections. It’s good listening while we work from home.
—Thesha Woodley, Associate Director of Visitor Experience and Membership
Just for Fun
The Dangerous Book for Dogs by Rex & Sparky
We have four legged “kids,” so just for fun we are reading The Dangerous Book for Dogs by Rex & Sparky.
—Lori Rogers, Visitor Experience and Membership Coordinator
I’ve not really been able to concentrate on a book, but I am loving magazines for a bit of respite from the surreal week we’ve had. The colorful and inspiring pages of House Beautiful, Artist magazine and Traveler from AAA have been a feast to the eye.
—Angela Lubincky, Guest Services Associate