PLU’s Scandinavian Cultural Center selected for Registrars to the Rescue service project

Posted by: Date: July 28, 2016 In:
His Majesty King Harald V of Norway (left) is greeted by PLU Norwegian and Scandinavian studies professor Troy Storfjell in the Scandinavian Cultural Center on May 23, 2015.

By Zach Powers '10
PLU Marketing & Communications

TACOMA, WASH. (June. 23, 2016)- Pacific Lutheran University’s Scandinavian Cultural Center (SCC) is one of two Tacoma-area museums selected for a service project by Registrars to the Rescue (R2R), an initiative of the Washington Museum Association.

Curators with R2R will visit the SCC on June 22 and work in collaboration with SCC staff and volunteers to rehouse the center’s cherished collection of authentic Nordic costumes.

“It is such an honor to be selected by the Registrars to the Rescue program.” said SCC president Linda Caspersen, who donated some of the pieces in the collection that will be rehoused thanks to R2R. “The SCC has a top notch collection both in handweaving and costume. I believe their assistance will greatly raise the bar on our collection, since storage is a key factor in the preservation of textiles.”

In its fifth year, R2R partners with Seattle-based Art Work Fine Art Services, a full-service company of experts who handle artwork, to bring together a team of trained museum professionals to volunteer on a special collections project in Washington state.

The program aims to help meet the needs of the museums throughout the state by extending the experience of trained museum professionals to cultural centers, heritage organizations and local museums.

“Registrars to the Rescue volunteers will be supplying needed materials and teaching us how to create supportive and non-toxic storage solutions for our costume collection, as well as rolling up their sleeves to lift and move things around!” explained SCC director Elisabeth Ward.

Ward says that the SCC’s collection, which includes artifacts from all five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), is a testament to the connection and trust the Puget Sound’s Scandinavian American community shares with PLU.

“The collection in the Scandinavian Cultural Center is a reflection of this (Scandinavian) community. They entrust us with precious family heirlooms,” Ward said. “Items have been donated to PLU since the late 1970s, many of them hundreds of years old.”

The artifacts and literature housed by the SCC are used regularly by PLU faculty members on campus as well as K-12 and community educators throughout the area.

“The artifacts collection of the Scandinavian Cultural Center is an invaluable teaching resource for faculty members,” said PLU Associate Professor of German Jen Jenkins, Ph.D.

“We bring classes in to see artifacts relevant to what we are teaching, such as Scandinavian immigration and music, and the students are mesmerized to get a firsthand look at some of the things they have only seen in books,” said Jenkins, who also serves as chair of the university’s Scandinavian studies program.

Preserving the collection of priceless artifacts is fundamental to the mission of the SCC. The additional help, she says, is highly appreciated.

“The Registrars to the Rescue program knows that all museums struggle with this challenge, especially not-for-profit museums and cultural centers,” Ward said. “We are very grateful for their help.”