D.c. Gigs: Recovering Memories At Nps (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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D.C. Gigs: Recovering Memories at NPS

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:52:50
Now, when it comes to jobs in the D.C. region, some of them pretty much fall into the category of one of a kind. Like, for example, the job of figuring out what to do with all the flags, teddy bears, flowers and other objects left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:53:06
Well, it turns out the National Park Service keeps all this stuff in a massive facility in Landover, Maryland. In our continuing series, "D.C. Gigs," producer Marc Adams headed to Landover to check out the collection and to chat with one of the curators who preserves these priceless pieces of the American experience.

MR. BOB SONDERMAN

13:53:23
My name is Bob Sonderman. I am the acting regional curator for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service. In addition, I'm the chief of the museum resource center, which is the central curatorial facility for the National Parks Service in the National Capital Region.

MR. BOB SONDERMAN

13:53:36
My job is to preserve and protect cultural resource assets of the National Park Service. I keep a little notepad that kind of tries to remind me of things that need to be done every day because we have a large curatorial facility. You know, it's 60,000 square feet of space. It's a football field enclosed.

MR. BOB SONDERMAN

13:53:54
So down here -- here's a drawer full of artifacts that one would encounter on a Native American site here in the local area. So we have a combination of both archeological material, historic furnishings, museum collections from the Department of the Interior collection that aren't currently on exhibit at the Department of the Interior.

MR. BOB SONDERMAN

13:54:12
So we have a wide variety of material. We have material in this building that spans the entire length of human occupation of this part of the United States.

MR. BOB SONDERMAN

13:54:23
That's 122 or 121.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE

13:54:26
122.

SONDERMAN

13:54:27
From the National Mall there's some curiosities. People leave things at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We call it memorabilia, you can call it whatever you wish. But people leave items, mementos reflecting their feelings, their aspirations, their reactions to the Vietnam War.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE

13:54:44
(unintelligible) if there's anything in the bottom, no, no, the bottom's blank mostly. There's a lot of them in here.

SONDERMAN

13:54:51
Made out of plywood, look at that and the kids just painted them and then they put their names on the back. Look at that. This is from Savannah, California.

SONDERMAN

13:54:57
A number of years ago, a group of veterans from Wisconsin left a motorcycle at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, knowing full well that the National Park Service was in the throes of collecting objects left at the wall.

SONDERMAN

13:55:10
They created a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, airbrushed painted beautiful scenes associated with the Vietnam War and veterans and left it at the wall. It's the doggonnedest (sp?) motorcycle you ever saw. It's fabulously beautiful and it's one of the iconic things in the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Collection.

SONDERMAN

13:55:29
This one? Look at that. Isn't that cute? Before, many things were -- at the very beginning, it was cathartic. Now, it's preconceived, people come to leave things. That's cool.

SONDERMAN

13:55:42
There is a point where a manager might ask a question, how come we have to keep all this stuff? And I think that's a legitimate question. There is a point of diminish and return, which is sometimes difficult for purists in the museum world and in the archeological universe to grasp.

SONDERMAN

13:55:58
But there is a point where we can't collect everything, we can't keep everything and that's one of the big challenges that the museum profession faces today. It costs money to store stuff and there is a square foot cost to store museum objects and there is a delicate balance between what we should keep, what we shouldn't keep and why we keep it.

SHEIR

13:56:21
You can see photos of Bob Sonderman and some of the objects in the Park Services Collection on our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

13:56:30
And if you have a distinctively D.C. Gig you think we should explore, send us an e-mail. Our address is metro@wamu.org, or visit us on Facebook. That's facebook.com/metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

13:57:21
And that's "Metro Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Patrick Madden, David Schultz, Sabri Ben-Achour, Courtney Collins and Jessica Gould. Marc Adams produces "D.C. Gigs." Jim Asendio is our news director. Our managing producer is Tara Boyle. Jonna McKone and Lauren Landau produce "Door To Door."

SHEIR

13:57:38
Thanks to Tobey Schreiner, Jonathon Charry, Andrew Chadwick, Margo Kelly, Timmy Olmstead and Kelin Quigley for their production help. And to the WAMU digital media team for keeping our website up to date.

SHEIR

13:57:50
Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts'' and our ''Door To Door'' theme "No Girl" are from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. Visit our website, metroconnection.org, for a list of all the music we use.

SHEIR

13:58:02
And while you're there, you can join our Facebook community, you sign up for our Twitter feed. You can subscribe to the free "Metro Connection" podcasts and you can send us an email by clicking the contact link at the top of the page. We hope you can join us next Friday afternoon at 1:00 and Saturday morning at 7:00 when we'll get the message.

SHEIR

13:58:19
Exploring how we communicate or sometimes fail to communicate with one another. We'll find out the truth about how deafness actually affects your vision and visit and island in the Chesapeake Bay that's home to a rather unusual English dialect. Plus, new approaches to talking about the birds and the bees.

SHEIR

13:58:37
I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection." A production of WAMU 88.5 news.
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