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Conservation Lab Restores Artifacts from African American Museum of Iowa

The Conservation Laboratory at the University of Iowa Libraries has completed restoration of 23 flood-damaged artifacts from the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.

The media is invited to be the lab at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, when Susan Kuecker, museum curator, comes to the Conservation Lab to accept the items, which will also be on view before packing up for safe return to the museum. Kuecker will be available to provide background information on the cleaned items.

The artifacts include a collection of buttons was from the Mason’s Dry Cleaners in Cedar Rapids owned by Elmer Smith, Jr., coins, baskets, gourds, feathered fans, and a mat woven by George Washington Carver.  

Nancy E. Kraft, head of preservation at UI Libraries, says her staff logged over 100 hours to clean the items, which were retrieved the week of June 16, 2008 after flood waters receded from the museum at 55 12th Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids. The length of time for cleaning each item ranged from 15 minutes to 35 hours, depending on the amount of damage and intricacy, Kraft said.

The return of the collection coincides with Black History Month, a popular time to visit the museum.

The Conservation Lab is also restoring flood-damaged collections from the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids and the Johnson County Historical Society.  For background on these efforts see