Museum Needs Publics Help to Restore Local Artifact - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Museum Needs Publics Help to Restore Local Artifact

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CRAB ORCHARD (WVVA) -Crab Orchard Museum has a significant wagon worthy of rescue and the Virginia Association of Museums has a program to focus attention on artifact preservation, but the museum needs the public's help to call attention to the project.

"If our mission is to preserve and promote Appalachian cultural heritage, artifact preservation must be at the heart of that mission," says Charlotte Whitted, Executive Director. "If we lose significant artifacts to time and the elements, we lose the foundations and the proof of the stories we tell."

The Commonwealth of Virginia began a project in 2011 that offered museums and archives an opportunity to raise awareness for endangered artifacts. This program, run by the Virginia Association of Museums and the Virginia Collections Initiative, is called Virginia's Top Ten Endangered Artifacts. It works to help museums to gain support in their quest to preserve and restore their artifacts. This year, the Historic Crab Orchard Museum entered an artifact that was selected, along with 21 others, to be considered for Top Ten Status.

The program allows and encourages participation from the people in the communities the artifacts are nominated in; as well as the Top Ten, there is also a People's Choice award. Everyone is encouraged to log on to www.vatop10artifacts.org

Voting began on August 1st and will last until August 29th; there is no limit to the number of times an individual can vote.

All of the artifacts will be reviewed by an independent panel of judges who will make the final decision about which artifacts will be placed in the Top Ten; if two entries are seen as equally important, the People's Choice voting can work in favor of one artifact over another. The final Top Ten List will be released in September 2012.

The artifact nominated by the Historic Crab Orchard Museum is a wagon that would have been used between the years of 1880 and 1910 to carry rocks and other materials to repair roads. This wagon was used in Tazewell County and it was likely used in the construction and repair of the Wilderness Road/Fincastle Turnpike; the road used by migrants in their journey to the West. This road became Rt. 19/460, which runs in front of Crab Orchard Museum.

The rock wagon is one of two used for this purpose that are still in existence. It is in need of repairs, but the iron is the original and is in pretty good condition. The wood and wheels are in need of serious repairs; the Museum hopes to use the Top Ten status, if it is selected, as a way to raise money and awareness so that the necessary repairs can be made. "Woodworker Richard Vogel has offered his assistance in repairing the wagon and is helping to locate a wheelwright too. Our members and volunteers recognize the value of this artifact and are enthusiastic about the possibility of saving it."

The museum encourages those who appreciate our regional history to vote on-line. "Vote early and vote often," says Whitted. "This is a chance for national attention to be drawn to the significance of Appalachian heritage, and we are competing for that attention with other significant artifacts and prominent institutions across the Commonwealth. With your help we can shine a light on this end of the state."

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