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Grant Review Process Helps Museum of Mental Health Redefine Collections Project

September 22, 2016

By Megan Lallier-Barron, Museum of Mental Health Curator

One of the oldest and most recognizable state-owned structures in Salem is the Oregon State Hospital. A study of hospital architecture has been an important way to better understand how the changing attitudes and philosophies of mental health care in Oregon over time. One of the key resources the Museum of Mental Health has used when researching the history of this architecture has been through blueprints and architectural plans that are a part of the state’s collection. This collection encompassed the entirety of the Hospital’s 133 year history, including other state-run mental health facilities in Oregon.

To better preserve this collection, the Museum applied for the Oregon Heritage Museum Grant. Our original plan was to use our grant funding to assist us in digitizing our collection while also providing an appropriate storage environment for these documents. Something that came to light during the grant review process changed the scope of our project. It was a surprise to learn that the blueprints were considered state documents and therefore could be transferred to the Oregon State Archives for storage and preservation. The Museum of Mental Health would be able to have duplicates and digital copies but would not have to bear the burden of storing the architectural blueprints and plans.

Working principally with Layne Sawyer and Theresa Rea at the Archives, we compared the items in the Museum’s collection and identified items that were missing from the State Archives holdings, and we found quite a few. From there, we worked with the Archives to transfer these items after they had been professionally scanned and a new shelving system was installed at the Archives. It has taken over a year since our initial grant proposal, but these architectural drawings are finally on their way to their rightful home.

To learn more about Museum of Mental Health visit their website.

Photos: (Left) Museum volunteers Howard Baumann and Karen Sewell during the inventory process of the project. (Right) Museum of Mental Health Curator, Megan Lallier-Barron, delivering scanned blueprints to the Oregon State Archives.

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