Oregon’s Treasures: Preserving the state’s artifacts

Special Reports

The warehouse is kept at a cool 65-68 degrees

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With thousands of items inside the Oregon Historical Society’s vault, it takes great care to make sure the artifacts are preserved.

The warehouse’s temperature is kept around an optimal 65-68 degrees, while specialized colder storage is available for those items that need it. The humidity level is kept at 45-50% to keep the items from becoming dry and brittle.

The artifacts go through an acquisition process while being considered for the vault, according to the OHS Collections Manager Nicole Yashuhara.

“People come to us from all different areas around Oregon and the nation interested in donating material to our collection,” Yashuhara said. “We get all the information we can from the donor about the provenance – that’s the history of the artifact — how they came into possession of the artifact, how it relates to Oregon and therefore OHS’ mission.

“Then our staff gets together and talks about whether these artifacts will be used in the future for display or research or exhibit or a loan. Once that decision is made we can go forward.”

With the thousands of items stored and preserved here, you may be surprised at Yashuhara’s favorite: an animal-powered treadmill.

“It’s a staff favorite because we just imagine a little calf on a Caldwell Farm walking on this treadmill, getting fit — but also powering a piece of farm equipment.”

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