Oklahoma's number one blog for natural and cultural history.


Two Is Better Than One

As we mentioned last year in a related post, museums typically showcase only three to five percent of their collections due to vulnerability. This leaves the vast majority of specimens and artifacts in need of preservation, which is often extensive and expensive. A foundation of awareness is necessary before funds can be raised or research conducted.

In 2013, the Oklahoma Cultural Heritage Trust established the Top Ten Most Endangered Artifacts Campaign, funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. This campaign strives to generate publicity for preservation. For museums, the competition sheds light on the pressing and often unseen issue of conservation. 

"Each year thousands of visitors have the opportunity to experience and enjoy irreplaceable treasures in institutions across the state," said Susan Feller, co-project director of the Oklahoma Cultural Heritage Trust. "This program allows us to assist with ongoing efforts to provide for the proper care of these items and ensure their preservation to allow future generations to continue to enjoy these cherished treasures."

Museums, libraries and archives from across the state may submit artifacts for selection. This year a panel of judges selected ten finalists. We are pleased to announce that the Sam Noble Museum has placed among the top 10 for the second year in a row!

Elsbeth Dowd, museum registrar, and Susie Fishman-Armstrong, archaeology collection manager, represent the museum at the state capital.

As you may recall, last year we submitted a swatch of lace from the Spiro Mounds – one of the oldest textiles known from Oklahoma. This year, we nominated another artifact related to Spiro Mounds, an illustration of an engraved pottery vessel from that site. This picture – from 1940 – depicts the art, religion and cosmology of the ancestral Caddo and Wichita people who inhabited the site between 800 and 1450 A.D.

Spiro Pottery Illustration

The illustration was drawn on matboard, which is now beginning to turn yellow. Additionally, the piece has two pinholes in the top corners, glue remnants on the back and smudges across the front surface. 

In addition to being accepted into the program, the winning institutions were each presented with a Cultural Heritage Stewardship Award signed by Governor Mary Fallin, Senator John Sparks and Representative Emily Virgin, who will be visiting the museum on May 28 for a tour of our 12 collections.

The ten finalists pose at the awards ceremony

This year’s winners also included the Ataloa Lodge Museum, Bartlesville Area History Museum, Cherokee National Historical Society, Drumright Historical Society Museum, Hughes County Historical Society and Museum, Julian P. Kanter Political Commercial Archive, Melvin B. Tolson Black Heritage Center, Oklahoma Railway Museum and the Woodring Wall of Honor

The Cultural Heritage Stewardship Award is just one of many ways the Sam Noble Museum strives to provide top-notch care for the artifacts within its walls. They say you cannot know where you going until you’ve know where you’ve been – and that’s exactly why we must strive to protect Oklahoma’s living history.