Shopping for a scythe or old wagon wheels? The Dunn Museum has what you need
Are you in the market for an antique, long-handled scythe?
What about wagon wheels, cavalry helmets or old horse harnesses?
These and other possessions -- some banal, some unusual -- will be put on the auction block by the Lake County Forest Preserve District.
The items have been part of the collection of the Bess Bower Dunn Museum, which operates at the district's headquarters at 1899 W. Winchester Road in Libertyville. But they either have no known connection to Lake County, are in poor condition or have no benefit for preservation or scholarly research, officials said.
"Some of the items on the deaccession list were (donated) years ago, and there are no known connections or stories around them," said forest district board member Jessica Vealitzek, a Hawthorn Woods Democrat who leads the panel's operations committee.
Removing and selling items from a museum collection is a process called deaccession.
"(It's) a collections-management practice that allows staff to continually refine and strengthen our collection while ensuring that the museum's resources are allocated appropriately for the care of the permanent collection," said Andrew Osborne, the forest district's superintendent of educational facilities.
More than 60 pieces in the Dunn Museum collection are set to be deaccessioned. They include the above-mentioned tools and equipment as well as:
• A 1928 Ford Model A truck once owned by a Waukegan business.
• A coin-operated player piano.
• An Oliver manual typewriter manufactured in 1912.
• A covered wagon.
• A Chickering grand piano manufactured in 1872.
"The exterior seems to be in good shape," Osborne said of the piano. "I cannot speak to its playability."
The items are in storage at an undisclosed, off-site location. All the materials being stored off site are scheduled to be moved to a different location with better preservation conditions and security this fall.
An inventory of those items was completed ahead of the move. A committee then reviewed the pieces to determine which should be removed from the museum's holdings.
The process was very deliberate.
"Every item on the list was researched and discussed by the museum's collections committee before a recommendation was made," Osborne said.
The forest board approved deaccessioning the items last week.
"I love old stuff, but at some point you have to make room for the new," Vealitzek said.
Most of the items will be sold at public auction, Osborne said. A date hasn't been set, but officials are eyeing spring 2020.
A few pieces may have value to other organizations, though, so officials are talking with several institutions about transferring ownership, Osborne said.
Museum industry ethical guidelines typically prohibit proceeds from deaccession from being used for anything other than acquisition of more items or the care of collections.
Proceeds from the planned sales will go to collection preservation, Osborne said. He didn't have an anticipated sales estimate for the items.
The forest district has sold pieces from museum collections before.
In 2017, the staff deaccessioned some unwanted weapons. Three years earlier, the district sold 34 bound volumes of newspapers from the Civil War period to the Robert R. McCormick Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.