ard at p850ug1.demon.co.uk
Fri Apr 21 16:43:05 CDT 2006
> In article <44480ECB.2020409 at yahoo.co.uk>,
> Jules Richardson <julesrichardsonuk at yahoo.co.uk> writes:
> > William Donzelli wrote:
> > > Most people do not know this, so I do not blame you. It is common museum
> > > practice when restoring objects.
> > In some cases museum practice seems a little odd, though. [...]
> I wonder what the curators at the Henry Ford Museum do as a matter of
> practice. Lots of curator "practice" comes from art and antique museums
> where you definately don't want to "repair" anything. Witness how on
> Antiques Road Show they point out that the value is less if its a
> piece of furniture that has been refinished.
I have made simialr comments in the past. Computers (and other technical
artefacts) are not fine art, and don't necessarily need to be covered by
the same rules.
IMHO the London Science Muaseum's policy is broken. I discovered this
when I offered them some flip-chip boards to replace missing ones in one
of their machines. They refused because mine, although the correct types,
were a couple of years later than the machine.
I would have expected them to have marked them as replacements, to keep a
log book, and so on. But surely a complete machine is more use than an
incomplete one. And to top it all, it was as machine that had been used
and taken out of service, and then donated to the museum. I would be
_very_ suprised if none of the flip-chip boards had been replaced during
its working life.
To comment on some other points that have been raised in this discussion.
Yes, a log book can get lost or separated from the machine. This is not a
reason for not keeping one (IMHO a log book should be kept for any rare
machine that you're working on), it's surely a good reason to keep
multiple copies of the log.
Yes, it's _possible_ somebody will want to research the paint used on a
classic computer some time in the distant future. I think it's more
likely, though, they'll be more interested in the electronic design of
the machine, in the programs it ran, in the uses it was put to (e.g.
'This machine was the first (popular home comuter)|(machine to bring word
processing to the masses)|(etc)'), and so on. So IMHO machines should be
kept running as far as possible.
With reference to the comment that a reproduction front panel constructed
differently to the origianl might confuse future researchers, why do the
vintage radio crowd insist on re-stuffing electrolytic capacitor cans?
That IMHO is very likely to cause confusion as to the original
construction. I won't do this, I simply mount a new, suitable, capacitor
in place of the old one. And I've been flamed for doing so.
> However, the Henry Ford Museum tries to preserve technological
> artifacts in working condition and I'm willing to bet that they have a
> different set of rules than the average museum for how an item is to
> be restored.
Another thought. I read a monthly magazine called 'Clocks' which not
suprisingly is about antique clocks, both the history and the
Many of the clocks described and repaird there are rarer than most of the
computers we deal with here. But almost always they are repaired, it it
considered normal to cut a new wheel, bush the pivot holes in the plates,
and so on. And it appears no record is kept of this work.
A related thing could be the Salisbury clock (the oldest mechanical clock
still running IIRC). It was found stuck in the catherdal tower about 80
years ago, and fortunately somebody recognised what it was. It had been
converted from the origianl foliot balance to a pendulum at some point in
Anyway, it was cleaned up, and converted back to the orignal design (as
far as can be determined). The new parts are painted a slightly
different colour, so they can be identified, and of course records have
been made of what was done. But it most certainly has not been left in
the ' as found' condition. And that is a much rarer and much more
significant artefact than anything we deal with on this list.
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