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An Alexander Spotswood waistcoat portion is in the running for endangered list.
Wilton House Museum
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BY MICHAEL FELBERBAUM
RICHMOND--At the Wilton House Museum, an 18th-century plantation house overlooking the James River, a portion of a Colonial waistcoat worn by the then-Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood is in disrepair.
The framed fabric belonging to the man known for his defeat of the pirate Blackbeard is frayed and, without proper conservation, will continue to fall apart.
Its condition has placed it among the nominees for Virginia's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts, a program designed to create awareness of the importance of preserving artifacts throughout the state and at museums and archives in the District of Columbia.
The endangered artifacts program sponsored by the Virginia Association of Museums is raising attention--and in some cases, funding--for some of the region's most unique relics.
And with so much history, it's no surprise many of the artifacts that help illustrate Virginia's past are in need of a little TLC.
"When you visit a museum or a historic house or a library, as a visitor you see the finished product," said Christina Newton, project manager of the Virginia Collections Initiative at the Virginia Association of Museums. "But behind the scenes, the work that had to go into more than likely restoring that object takes a lot of time and effort, expertise and funding."
About 190 million objects held by archives, historical societies, libraries, museums and scientific organizations in the U.S. are in need of conservation, according to the Heritage Health Index study. The study was done by Heritage Preservation with funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.
In Virginia, an independent panel of experts will select the region's top artifacts in mid-September through the program, created last year and expected to take place annually. The panel will use input from now-closed public online voting.
Top vote-getters include the remains of Spotswood's waistcoat; a locomotive from the early 1900s built in Richmond and a late-1800s ledger highlighting the African-American community housed at the Portsmouth Community Library and Black History Museum.
"These are pieces of Virginia's history--whether it's 20th century, 21st century or 18th century," said William Strollo, director of education and public relations at the Wilton House Museum. "It's something that students, adults, teachers, parents, anyone can connect to."