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History Museum Focuses On Photographs During Celebrating Preservation Week

The Museum of South Texas History will celebrate Preservation Week April 22 through April 28 with a variety of activities at the museum and online. Preservation Week is an annual event founded by several national organizations including the Library of Congress. In its fifth year celebrating Preservation Week, MOSTHistory will focus on the preservation of photographs.

“Over the last century, photography had become one of the most powerful tools for humans to record and remember what they value as important. In the lower Rio Grande Valley, MOSTHistory holds one of the largest collections of such photographs in its Margaret H. McAllen Memorial Archives,” said Executive Director Shan Rankin.

“Numerous families, individuals, and businesses have made their photographs available to the public by donating them to the museum,” Rankin adds. “But Preservation Week is not only about what the museum holds, but what we as an entire community hold, our collective identity. Together we can protect that visual legacy, whether the photographs are in acid-free boxes in the museum, in family albums, or in business file cabinets.”

The museum’s Archivist Kelly Francis-Love said, “In years past, the museum received large collections of photographs, and not all of the people, events, or buildings were identified. During Preservation Week, we’re asking the public to look at some of our ‘mystery’ photographs online and at the museum to see if they can give us more information about them.”

On Sunday, April 22, the museum posted online the first “mystery” photograph from its collection for help with identification.  Additional photographs will be posted online daily through the week. On Monday, April 23, the archives staff shared a video about their brand of detective work to analyze, date and identify historic photographs. On Tuesday, April 24, they shared information about the museum’s photographic holdings. On Wednesday and Thursday, April 25 and April 26, staff will present information about how to care for, organize and display photographs. Friday, April 27, the museum will post additional resources about preserving and identifying photographs, and taking meaningful photographs.

Throughout the week, the public is invited to view – and hopefully identify – additional photographs of people, places and events in the Mystery Gallery on display in the museum’s Classroom. Concluding the week on Saturday, April 28, the public is welcomed to meet the curatorial staff at Coffee with the Curators at the museum between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Visitors can view the Mystery Gallery and ask museum staff questions about preservation. They can also learn more about the museum’s photographic collection and how it can be used for a variety of personal, business and research purposes. The Mystery Gallery of photographs will remain on view at the museum until May 20.

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