The Traveling Archivist turned the Granger toward Charlotte on September 20. First stop was the prestigious Mint Museum on Randolph Road. There I spent the day with the museum’s librarian, Joyce Weaver.
Joyce is hoping to win a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to hire a consulting archivist to implement the development of an institutional archive for the museum. My site visit and report would help in this effort by providing an assessment of museum’s historical records and outlining a plan for their collection, preservation, and access. In the morning, I surveyed records in various museum offices and storage areas where material was being stored temporarily. After lunch we discussed what I had seen and I made suggestions regarding next steps to pull the grant proposal together. My conclusion was that the Mint certainly held records that would provide the basis for an archive, a collection that would benefit both the Mint staff and outside researchers. So, I hope Joyce and her colleagues win the NHPRC grant and can move forward.
I also got to see the staff areas of the museum that are normally closed to the public. The Mint building has been added to and altered over many years, but it began life as a neo-classical structure on Trade Street in downtown Charlotte where it housed the southern branch of the Federal Mint. In later years the building was used as an assay office, but was closed by the government in the 1930s. Threatened with demolition, the citizens of Charlotte raised funds to relocate the structure to its current location for use as a museum. The re-location was aided by labor supplied through the WPA, and was completed in 1936. In the staff areas of the lower level under the original building, there is a series of masonry vaults, a graceful remnant of 19th century construction techniques.
Below is a cabinet in the office of the Assistant Registrar showing historical records collected and preserved by Martha Mayberry, the museum’s registrar. They will be incorporated into the Mint Archive.
Outside, between the parking lot and the main entrance to the museum, is a temporary installation, “Passages: Waterway,” by the Japanese artist, Tetsunori Kawana. Constructed of bamboo, it is an amazing piece that you walk through. This picture does not do the work justice. Go see it while it’s still there.