Living in the past
Museum conservator leads secret, exciting life

by Cheryl Leschasin
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 09/97) - Ever wonder what it would be like to play in Sir John Franklin's long underwear?

Rosalie Scott knows, she has been a museum conservator at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre for 12 years and has examined all 108 pairs of long underwear stashed by members of the Sir John Franklin expedition.

When any new item comes into the museums' possession, it's Scott's responsibility, along with co-workers, to assess, treat, store and display the artifact.

"Some people may think the museum is dull and stagnant, when really, there's lots of interesting things going on," said Scott.

A trip to the museum storage room proves the museum is indeed, an interesting place to be.

Row upon row of stacking shelves holding baskets, tools, clothing, carvings, paintings and grave markers, to name only a few hidden treasures not generally seen by the public.

Currently, Scott is restoring a series of water colour paintings by Winifred Petchey Marsh, the wife of an Anglican minister posted in Arviat in the 1940s.

The paintings depict the life and land of the Padlimuit Inuit of that area.

"You really have to be interested in arts and fine art to do this," said Scott, who took museum studies at Sir Sanford Fleming College in Peterborough, Ont., for three years.

"The program blended my interests, dexterity and color sense," said Scott, who also said she had a lot of interest in history and architecture.

Among other things, part of Scotts' job is to go on digs, where she examines any artifacts that are found. She also provides disaster relief when artifacts are damaged.

Scott said fewer museum are hiring full-time conservators, but there is plenty of opportunity for contract work.