Mill City Museum: Large Functional Objects
The Daniels Objects Conservation Laboratory has performed over 500 hours of treatment time on eight large functional objects related to grain production flour milling in Minnesota. The Senior/Lead Objects Conservator and Conservation Technician have worked closely with Museum Collections Curators and Exhibit Department staff in order to treat the objects in the most historically accurate manner.
This ca. 1883 Minnesota Giant 14 hp steam traction engine had been completely restored to working condition in 1959. It was used at steam meets in Dalton, Minnesota until the early 1980's when it was retired due to strict state boiler regulations. The traction engine was treated for the new Mill City Museum exhibit gallery installation. The treatment included a thorough cleaning of the interior, chemical stabilization of the cast iron and interior brickwork, and replacement of missing paint. Both the water tank and the wood fuel box were inaccurate recreations. Historically accurate reproductions were constructed out-of-house, and were finished and "aged" in the objects lab.
The two Albany Mill rolling mills, middlings purifier and flour packer were thoroughly cleaned both mechanically and chemically to remove flour and rust coatings and residues. The metal and wood surfaces were coated with a special natural hard wax formulation. The painted finishes and stenciling were enhanced with reversible, water-based paints. Structural repairs were done where necessary for the preservation of the parts.